Archive for November, 2011

What a great gift idea

Friday, November 18th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

I understand the struggle for many area residents in getting their groceries from the store to their home, but I really want to start by saying: If you have a shopping cart on you’re front lawn, you should possibly think about returning it. It’s not yours. When you take something that’s not yours, it’s called “stealing” and most people (even big grocery stores) tend to frown on it.

The Sherburne-Earlville School District (my alma mater) is still working on renovations? I was a substitute teacher at the school for more than a year and during that time, I had almost forgotten what the school looked like with ceiling tiles in the hallways. Tom Hanks’ movie “The Money Pit” comes to my mind (Walter: “How long will that take?” Contractor: “Two weeks”). But I hear it’s looking great… at least what’s done is looking great.

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I’m starting to get excited about the holiday season. Even though I generally can’t stand the seasonal commercialism, some of that too is getting me into the holiday spirit. I can’t wait to see the “great, must-have gift ideas” that the home shopping network has in the coming weeks. Better yet, I can’t wait to see the best online gift ideas – the one’s that are far worse than a bad Christmas sweater or Ralphie’s pink bunny outfit in “A Christmas Story.” It’s going to be hard to top last year’s favorites: Banana Guard (a plastic case for the people who are “fed up with bringing their banana to work or school only to find them bruised or squashed”) and the book How to Avoid Huge Ships (you know, for the people who are OK with avoiding large ships and all other ships in general but still struggle with avoiding “huge” ships). I look forward to it.

Crossing the line

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Brian Golden

Anyone who’s ever been to (or been associated with, for that matter) a school district board of education meeting is sure to have seen their fair share of bickering, arguing, finger-pointing and – at times – near-violence, yet last night’s Norwich City School District BOE meeting … well … ended on an extremely sour note.

And that’s putting it mildly, I’m afraid.

Things began normal enough, with the typical adoption of the minutes, written communications and – as found in today’s Evening Sun – presentation of discussion items (students-academics-finances). And then, as is almost always the case, the drama.

Known, of course, as public comment.

Now, let me get this straight first, I have no problem whatsoever with people signing up, addressing the board and stating their opinion, no matter how misguided I may find that opinion to be. It’s their right as a parent, friend, sibling, teacher, former educator or even taxpaying citizen. Yet some people (and you all know who they are) have a tendency to take things a bit too far. Which was, unfortunately, the case at last night’s meeting.

As with most things in life, there are rules when it comes to addressing the board of education. Personally, I don’t find these rules to be all that difficult to understand and – no matter one’s frustration level – it’s common sense to follow them … even if you disagree with what they entail.

Last night, however, a regular attendee at the Norwich BOE meeting went far beyond what should and shouldn’t be said, regardless of one’s feelings toward the district’s administration or other employees. In point of fact … comparing the Norwich district’s many controversies (whether those falsely perceived, imagined or – once in awhile – actually pertinent) with the current Penn State scandal was just about the sickest, most disrespectful, thoughtless and downright idiotic thing I’ve ever heard, and a local businessman – a regular at Norwich BOE meetings – should apologize immediately to the various board members, those in attendance and each and every member of the administration present for ever doing so.

As I heard it said (and I do take notes during these meetings), “Norwich is Penn State on steroids.”

I’m not one to point fingers, at least not while I’m “on the job,” so to speak, yet I honestly feel that – in this instance – something needed to be said. There’s right and there’s wrong and – at times – it’s a person’s responsibility to call it out as they see it. And I must say I was extremely disappointed.

Following the mayhem, shouting and gavel-banging that ensued, I even heard one board member say that – maybe – it’s time this individual not be allowed to speak during public comment. Now, I’m not a big fan of censorship, but statements such as his serve no purpose at all, except to inflame and stir up trouble. There’s no need for it, particularly in light of the many problems the district is already facing and – again – I think an apology to all is in order. Until then, I’d have to agree that some individuals, due to their continued desire to incite discord, should probably call it a day until they’ve had some time to think their actions over.

And that’s not to say I don’t have my own issues with some of the district’s decisions, because I do. Sometimes, though, you have to know when it’s OK to draw the line … and when it’s not OK to cross it.

No more reports until I’m fairly compensated

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

It’s official. We’ve had the time to think it over and we have made our decision. Offers have been made; we’ve rejected them. Additional offers have been made and we rejected those. I, along with the rest of the Reporter’s Union, feel that we have been cheated out of money – nearly three billion over a ten year deal – and are therefore abandoning our rights to negotiate in order to sue the newspaper, even after they have offered numerous ultimatums. We have taken to Twitter to gain support for our cause and we’re paying for the best attorney possible because we think that in the long run, we can be fairly compensated and no more local news reports will be made until we are better paid. How are we to be happy when the average Chenango County reporter’s salary falls between a mere 3 and 5 million a year? Doesn’t a man have to eat?

No, I’m not really striking. That would be an awful idea because I know how it would turn out. Just the thought of it makes me think that I should box up my things and readjust my chair so it’s a more comfortable fit for my replacement.

So if it sounds ridiculous for me (or anyone else I know in almost any other profession) to refuse to work, why is the NBA getting so much coverage for their legal efforts? Don’t get me wrong; I know what’s happening between players and franchise owners is Capitalism at work but it’s so difficult for me and so many others to relate to the squandering of the league and the players when negotiations involve million dollar deals.

My opinion? Disband. Get rid of the players, abolish the union and start fresh. I’ll play for half the amount currently demanded. I can say it won’t look good and I can’t dunk but I can try really hard. And the NBA would save 50%. Win-win.

On a more interesting and completely unrelated note, I’m learning more about languages, dialect and the different aspects of various languages. Using Google Translate, I translated the second paragraph of this blog (No, I’m not really striking…) into Russian then again from Russian to English. This is what I came up with:

“No, I did not really catch the eye. That would be terrible idea, because I know how it will turn out. Just do not thinking about it makes me think that I should box your things and adjust my chair so that it is more comfortable fit for my replacement.”

So if you have an online Russian girlfriend, you may have to rectify a few things. Good luck.

The countdown begins…

Monday, November 14th, 2011
Brian Golden

Let the countdown begin, I say. Working toward my 100th blog as an Evening Sun reporter and hoping beyond hope I’ll reach that lofty milestone by the end of the week. Which means, of course, I’ll be blogging each and every day this week, just to warn you. And while I’m uncertain as to what, exactly, these blogs will entail, let’s just say I’m probably going to pull out a BG’s Top Ten or two for old time’s sake.

As for today, well, ‘30 Seconds’ callers … how you vex me sometimes. Namely because you obviously have trouble in the comprehension department. ‘30 Seconds’ means exactly that … 30 seconds. Now that we’ve switched our phone messaging system here at The Evening Sun (actually, it was months ago), it seems many of our regular callers now realize they can leave a message that’s as long as they could possibly want (the old message system had a set time limit). Which is fine for them, if they have the time. I, however, have better things to do than listen to five minutes of badmouthing … take your pick … President Obama, the cable company, the Chinese, your least favorite television show (change the channel if it’s that bad, for God’s sake) and so on and so forth. Please try to keep your comments appropriate and – pretty please – under 30 seconds in length.

Like that’s going to happen.

It seems I was way off with last week’s 11/11/11 blog, according to sources familiar with the events of that fateful day fifteen … err … sixteen years ago (that’s correction number one). On top of that, I even managed to misquote one of my own lyrics (embarrassing, to say the least). Not that too many people out there will really care, but, it’s “climbed a fence and forged our trail,” not a wall, as I originally posted. Unbelievable.

And now it’s off to county court for the remainder of the morning. After that … lunch. And then, more county court. Add to that a Norwich City School District Board of Education meeting and I guess my schedule for this mid-November Monday is pretty well set in stone. With that said, off I go.

11/11/11?

Friday, November 11th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

If you haven’t recognized Veteran’s Day yet, I strongly encourage it. It’s important to remember that unlike Columbus Day – which arguably shouldn’t be highly recognized – Veteran’s Day is more than a day spent away from the office.

Happy 11/11/11, if that matters to you. For one reason or another (reasons I don’t quite understand), it’s monumental for many to think that at some point today, the clock will read 11:11:11 on 11/11/11 – and if you miss it the first time around, don’t panic; you’ll have another opportunity to celebrate later tonight. From what I understand, the number “one” signifies a “beginning,” and double ones are like two beginnings (which is why so many couples are marrying today). So, three sets of double ones has mind-blowing importance. Best of luck to the newlyweds who believe that this is the determining factor of a long and blissful marriage. May your happiness withstand the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month you live together.

Congratulations are in certainly in order for Sherburne-Earlville Graduate Svante Myrick who, at the age of 24, won the mayoral race in the City of Ithaca this week, which will make him the youngest mayor in New York State when he takes office in January. What an incredible accomplishment! Not to mention, his name appears in the Google search bar after typing “Sva,” which is a feat in itself. And I hear the job comes with it’s own parking space – be still my beating heart.

I have a long familiarity with The Evening Sun but since I started working here, I’ve adapted a new appreciation for “30 seconds.” Oh, my bitter-sweat community… you’re opinions, complaints, observations, complaints, words of encouragement and complaints truly are a ray of sunshine on that of which would otherwise be a cloudy day. You’ve given me a new outlook on the need to improve Chenango County infrastructure. Thank you.

11/11/11

Friday, November 11th, 2011
Brian Golden

First things first, a big thank you to all those who have served our country over the years on this, Veteran’s Day. You all deserve praise for your sacrifice and dedication to our nation’s freedom and I salute you.

Well, I’m all set for tonight’s Sammy Awards in Syracuse. More-than-a-little nervous … but all set. Here’s hoping Master Thieves brings home the Sammy for Best Blues Album (or even Best New Artist), although it really doesn’t matter, this is going to fun regardless. Either way … wish us luck!

My fascination with the zombie apocalypse (and zombies in general) began with my first viewing of George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” years and years ago. Which is why, when checking out some of today’s headlines, I immediately latched on to a story relating very low levels of radiation – not associated with Japan’s recent nuclear disaster – registering in areas across Europe. Sound familiar? Sorry, but I get a kick out of this stuff.

In other news, it’s 11/11/11. For reasons I won’t go into right now, this day has a special significance for myself and my closest group of friends (you know who you are). Needless to say, it was fifteen years ago to the day that we “climbed a wall and forged our trail,” an event that inspired more than one song out of the hundred or so I’ve written over the years. With that in mind, happy 11/11 to all those involved in the Taughannock Falls incident … what a long, strange trip it’s been.

Yesterday marked what would have been my father’s 57th birthday and – what can I say? – I still miss the man as much as ever. Me and dad had a pretty special relationship, spending years working together, building the house on Pratt Road, water-skiing, playing table tennis and pool, making music and – all in all – having a great time doing so. I can only imagine what dad would think of my latest musical endeavor and the fact that we’re up for a Sammy tonight. And if we should win this evening, well, this one’s for him.

On another note (no pun intended), I just realized that this is my third blog of the week, not to mention my ninety-fifth as a reporter here at The Evening Sun. Hard to believe it was almost two years ago that I sat down and penned my first, “Old dreams with new lives,” way back on December 18, 2009. My how the time flies by, eh?

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Nov. 11, 2011

Friday, November 11th, 2011
Patrick Newell

- Last year, Greene’s field hockey season came to an end in what was essentially a skills competition. Playing Mamaroneck of Section I in the state semifinals, neither team gave up a goal in regulation or overtime. According to state playoff rules, after the overtime periods are exhausted, a penalty stroke shootout – five strokes for each side – determines the winner. It’s a one-on-one opportunity for a player to shoot from a designated spot in front of the goalie. Greene made just one of its attempts to Mamaroneck’s three. It wasn’t the first time in Greene head coach Sue Carlin’s tenure that penalty strokes determined a winner of a game she coached. But is there a better way to determine a team’s playoff fate? “We used to do penalty corners, but that ended up taking way too long,” Carlin said, who suggested something similar to hockey. The NHL uses a penalty shot where an individual player carries the puck in from center ice for a one-on-one shot against the goalie. Perhaps for field hockey, the player would dribble the ball in from just outside the penalty circle for a shot attempt. Each side would get five attempts, just like the penalty stroke format. Another alternative suggested by a former area coach was to start an additional sudden-victory 7-on-7 overtime period with seven players, but remove one player from the field every two minutes (save the goalie) until a team scores. In any event, who wouldn’t want to see a game end under more typical playing conditions rather than a shootout?

- Sue Carlin said her team has used food as a means of creating team bonding moments. At different times this season, parents and coaches have hosted team-wide meals. In preparation for Saturday’s state playoff game, Carlin assumed the chef’s hat with pasta as the entree. Asked about her culinary skills, Carlin was reticent to compare herself to Emeril Lagasse. “Definitely not,” Carlin answered if she would try to dress up the meal for her players. “They’ll eat anything.”

- I have never been a big fan of Penn State football. As a burgeoning football fan in the late 1970s, the Nittany Lions rolled over my Syracuse Orange year after year. Paterno’s troops were a model of consistency and excellence. Yes, I was indeed envious of that success. Paterno, an intelligent, educated man, expected his players to comport themselves with class, to study, and to graduate. It was a football program so clean, it squeaked. And the team was winning year after year. Over the years, you couldn’t help but respect the values that Paterno stood for, and his charitable generosity was admirable. Now, at 84, Paterno’s reputation, built over 60 years of coaching football, is spiraling down the toilet. Paterno has always favored a strong running game, and he handed off again – responsibility to someone higher on the chain of command. ESPN analyst Lou Holtz, who coached college and pro football for decades, made an excellent point earlier this week. If given this type of information by a graduate assistant or staff member, he would dig deep with question after question. Instead of tapping into human curiosity, Paterno passed the buck and didn’t follow up. It’s astonishing that anyone, knowing something like this was happening under his watch, would not seek justice.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 11/10/11

Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Looking forward to the first show of the Art Council’s 2011-12 season tonight, the Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats. Haven’t seen something like that on the local stage in a long, long time. Looks like a great show!

• While Chobani seems to get all the glory, Frontier in Sherburne (and Norwich) is another company that’s growing by leaps and bounds. Although its corporate parentage lies outside Chenango County, it’s still a company with deep local roots and a long history. My late mother, for instance, had her first job as a switchboard operator in the 1950s for the old C&U Telephone Company, one of Frontier’s many forebears. While the company has seen a fluctuation in its local workforce over the years, they’re certainly on an upswing. Congratulations to Jim Currie (and a shoutout to my old Leadership Chenango classmate) and crew on the continued good news.

• A Sherburne-Earlville graduate is the mayor of Ithaca! And he’s only 24. Pretty impressive.

• Check out tomorrow’s Evening Sun for two pages of advertisements from local businesses and readers saluting Veterans Day. And speaking of, be sure, if you’re off work tomorrow (which most of the world seems to be except me), to head down to the parks in downtown Norwich at 11 a.m. for the annual Veterans Day parade and ceremony.

A bridge, butterflies, Perry Browne and the Borg

Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Brian Golden

Let the fun begin on ‘30 Seconds’ (as well as the occasional Letter to the Editor, I’m sure) with today’s announcement of “bridge work ready to commence” in Oxford. And while I understand everyone’s frustration and concern over the extra seven minutes of travel needed to bypass said bridge, I’d think it’s better (and safer, no less) than having the bridge itself collapse due to age and a lack of structural integrity. Just saying.

Personally, it seems pretty simple to me … bridge is kaput … must be fixed … takes time to fix … sorry for the inconvenience … deal with it. Then again, I don’t live in Oxford, so it’s really not going to have much impact on my travels.

It’s official. The butterflies in my stomach are now fully engaged and – I’m sure – not going to go away any time soon. Master Thieves (my Syracuse band for those of you who don’t know) is up for a Sammy Award for Best Blues Album tomorrow night and I’m fairly certain sleep is going to be hard to come by tonight. Regardless, I’ve got my fingers crossed and each and every member of the band is hoping for a win. If not, it’s really not a big deal and we’re all just happy to have been nominated (but I’d still love to hear our collective name called, of course).

As for today’s story on Democracy Week at NHS, I must say I was impressed by senior and president of the Student Government Organization Jamie Zieno’s efforts to get our area representatives into the school for an informative seminar and question-and-answer session. Both Assemblyman Clifford Crouch and Congressman Richard Hanna were also delighted in the turnout and participation, as well. Hopefully, these students will continue to get involved – on every level – and expand their educational opportunities.

This morning (while on deadline, no less), I made my way down to Perry Browne for the annual “Veteran’s Day Parade” the elementary school holds up and down its hallways in honor of our local vets. It’s always a joy to visit my old school and I’m always blown away by how much smaller it seems. Ahh … those were the days, as they say. What’s funny, though, is the fact that I can still remember where each and every classroom of mine was located grades kindergarten through six (not to mention the teachers). A special thanks to Miss Lynn (now Mrs. Hickling), Mrs. Crawford, Mrs. Straight (spelling?), Mrs. Maiurano, Mrs. Fleming, then-Mrs. Exley and Mr. Abbott for putting up with me all those years. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be here writing this blog if it weren’t for all of you.

And now, absolutely hilarious (at least to me) moment of the day. Outside, early this morning, starting the car to warm it up a bit. Looking up, I see a pair of moths (or bugs of some kind … I’m no expert) trying their damnedest to fly up into the street lamp despite the misting rain. All I could think was, “Resistance is futile.”

And yes, I’m quoting Star Trek now … must be Jeff’s influence.

Editor’s Notebook: 11/9/11

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• The fog has lifted in The Evening Sun newsroom … Election 2011 is finally over. It’s quite a process for the reporters, as I’ve mentioned before, tracking down candidates (some of whom, amazingly, don’t want to be interviewed) and getting quotes for our myriad preview stories. When those weeks of hunting and chasing and writing are over, it’s Election Day, and much of the reporters’ hard work is over.

• And then it’s Election Night. Back in the day, Election Night was an all hands on deck news event, with each reporter positioned strategically throughout the county as the results slowly trickled in. Before the advent of the Digital Age, the results were hand-written (usually by Garth Grey) on a giant toteboard in the supervisors’ chambers at the county office building. If you wanted to know who won what, that’s where you had to be. And people came. Not just reporters, but the politicians, their friends and families. And busybodies. Lots of busybodies. I learned everything I know about local politics during Election Night side chatter in that board room. And there used to be actual campaign headquarters for each party – and boozy get-togethers at the Ontario or other local bars. Sure, we’d stay up until the wee hours of the morning tabulating results and getting punch-drunk (Great Googly-Moogly!), but there was something electric about Election Night. It was an Event.

• Now, of course, we’re much more civilized. The Board of Elections has long since gone digital, delivering results as they come in via their website (although last night was realllly slow). All one needs to do is log on, from the comfort of their own home. I still come in to the office, just to make it at least feel like I’m working. The reporters still work – but we communicate via text message and they call their respective candidates (also usually alone, at home) via cellphone. Far more efficient, but the romance is gone.