Archive for November, 2011

Just another day in the newsroom

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
Brian Golden

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … today’s column was – as usual – a lot of fun to write. Why, you ask? Well, simply click on the link provided and you’ll see how – every once in awhile – a day’s news can provide any opinion writer with more than enough fodder for 20 to 25 inches in print.

With that in mind, a special thanks to Justin Bieber, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Lindsay Lohan and Asteroid 2005-yu55 for the inspiration. I couldn’t have done it without you.

On another note, I had a great time listening to Assemblyman Clifford Crouch and Congressman Richard Hanna speak this morning at NHS. And while I don’t want to give too many details away (the story will be in tomorrow or possibly Friday’s Evening Sun), it’s great to see so many students interested in the inner workings of our government. Hopefully, they’ll grow up knowing just how important it is to get out there and cast their vote. With that said, I’m more-than-a-little ecstatic that November elections have come and gone once again. Congratulations to those Chenango County candidates that brought home a victory … you’ve got your work cut out for you.

This has nothing to do with work, but I must admit the butterflies are beginning to flutter as the (I believe) 18th annual Syracuse Area Music Awards approach. On Friday, my group, Master Thieves, will attend the yearly Sammy Awards show (we’re nominated for Best Blues Album) and – let’s face it – we’re all pretty excited for the event. And even if we don’t come home with a nice, shiny Sammy, it’s enough for this blues guitarist just to be nominated.

Random thought for today … 30 Seconds is quiet … too quiet. Always a bad sign.

I got to wondering this afternoon if Tyler (does anybody remember Mr. Murphy?) or Melissa (Stagnaro, not deCordova) ever suffered from lead-foot whenever an accident, fire or other sort of emergency came blaring out over the scanner. There was a not-so-small yet thankfully serious-injury free accident outside of McDonough today and – uncharacteristically – I found myself pushing the speed limit just a touch on my way west of Norwich while en route. Slow down, Mr. Golden … slow down.

And … I’m spent. Hope everyone enjoys this spring-like weather while it lasts, I have a feeling we’re “in for it” any day now. For anyone out there (like me) that grew up in this area, well, you know how it goes. One day it’s sunny, 65 degree weather. The next? Snow up to our eyeballs.

I think I’ll vote “for” instead of “against”

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

Hey, let’s start with a quote by Winston Churchill: “A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”

Election day is here – finally. Time to remove the “Vote for John Smith” pins, stop knocking on doors and take away the political campaign signs that decorate so many front lawns (except in Coventry where someone felt obligated to remove them days ago). They say that those who don’t vote can’t complain about the outcome and though I’m not sure I agree with that, I look forward to voting today. I appreciate all the candidates willing to talk to me the past few weeks and wish them the best of luck in all their endeavors. For the candidates who didn’t return my phone calls, the light flashing on your answering machine means you have a message. It’s not broken.

I commend the candidates who are running for their own significant purpose this year (and there is a lot of them). Unfortunately, I’ve (somehow) received the impression that many are running only in an effort to cease any further attempts of gas drilling in the area. I admire this, but realistically, there’s more happening. I haven’t taken a stance on gas drilling yet – there are obvious pros and cons – but running for a political position based solely on this one issue is a demonstration of ignorance, just as voting for someone based on one issue is ill-informed. When so much effort is centered on one cause, the result is tunnel vision and that’s a dangerous perspective for anyone, especially those in representation. I hope that returning board members and political newcomers in all townships can turn their attention to the array of issues plaguing local communities and, even if momentarily, segregate themselves from one dominantly popular subject to focus on other matters too.

Shifting gears, it’s a beautiful day out there. Snow in October, shorts in November and maybe a barbecue for Thanksgiving this year – a little bit of beach volleyball should calm the stress of the holiday season. If winter already passed by, I’m looking forward to the rest of spring.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Monday, Nov. 7, 2011

Monday, November 7th, 2011
Patrick Newell

Greene’s football players will likely deal with the sting of a 39-0 loss to Waverly for quite a while. But let’s be clear: The Trojans’ victory hopes were probably extinguished midway through the third quarter when it fell behind 27-0. Head coach Tim Paske was asked what was more surprising – giving up 39 points or his offense scoring none. “Not scoring,” Paske said. “Yeah, I didn’t think (39-0) would happen. “If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game and you don’t play for four quarters, this is what can happen.”
Greene has also made a healthy living this year bringing blitzing linebackers and defensive backs. This past Saturday, Waverly quarterback Zach Cooney either identified open receivers quickly, or had enough pass protection to get off a clean release. In one instance, Waverly receiver Jeff Mastrantuono was lined up in the slot with Greene linebacker Mike Beckwith defending in man-to-man coverage. At the snap, Beckwith slanted inside on a blitz. Mastrantuono was momentarily wide open, and Cooney delivered a quick pass parallel to the line of scrimmage. The Greene defense was a step slow to react, and Mastrantuono grabbed the “bubble screen” pass taking it 18 yards for a first down. Two other times in the first half, Waverly exploited Greene’s attacking defense. The first and third TDs of the game – 66- and 87-yard TD passes – came in situations where Cooney had his best receiver, Ryan Hewitt, locked up one on one with a Greene defensive back. Cooney tried Hewitt several times in the game, and those two big hookups paid big dividends leading to a 20-0 halftime lead.
“We brought pressure, and sometimes you get lucky with that,” Paske said. “We wanted to maybe give up one of those home runs, but we gave up a few more. That makes a big difference. We figured they would probably be able to score, but they’re a good team and they executed.”

Chenango Valley head football coach, Jay Hope, taught and coached briefly at Greene High School in the late 1990s before heading to CV. Hope assumed the head coaching duties from longtime Warriors coach Bob Zanot, and it took a few years before Hope and his coaching staff developed a consistent winning system. Now, with two straight Class B titles, CV is a fixture among the elite teams in the section.
Over the first month of this season, however; CV was anything but a playoff contender. It lost its opening game, had a week off due to flood damage across the Southern Tier, then lost two more, the latter contest a 35-31 division game against Oneonta. “When we were 0-3 at the beginning of the season, in terms of that, we could have folded up shop,” Hope said. “We told the kids after the fourth week that we were in the playoffs now, and we can’t lose. We came back versus Waverly, who is a sectional finalist, and had to come out and basically play playoff football. If we lost, we would be out. Our goal was to get to the playoffs and see what happens.”

On Monday, Greene’s Paske, with the benefit of hindsight and review of game film, talked about his team’s unfortunate sectional finals loss. “We started the game fine on defense,” Paske said. “We held them to a three-and-out, and even on their second series, they had a third-and-long before completing that long pass. If we get a knockdown or make a play, we would have had two three-and-outs on defense, and you never know what happens.”
Early in the second quarter and trailing 12-0, Greene moved from its 34 down to the Waverly 14. A Jeff Carlin run inside the 10 was negated due to a 10-yard block in the back penalty, and the Trojans never recovered from that mistake. Waverly took over on downs, and quickly raised the lead to 20-0 with an 87-yard TD strike. “We score and make it 12-7, it’s a big difference in how the game goes,” Paske said. “We hurt ourselves with some mental errors, but Waverly is a really good football team. Their defense was definitely the quickest we faced this year.”

Riding three straight playoff appearances, Norwich’s football future looks bright. A strong junior varsity team lost just one game and swept all of its league opponents. Yet, that junior varsity squad could have been even better. Six sophomores made the jump to the varsity level this year, and all played major roles on either offense or defense this season. “We have some great seniors that we’ll lose, but we were very young,” said Norwich coach John Martinson. “The program is looking up.”

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 11/3/11

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Gotta leave work early today so I can get to my second gig as a waiter up at the Canasawacta Country Club. OK, so my “second gig” is only once a year – but still it’s pretty important. For the past I don’t even know how many years, I’ve been proud to serve as one of Donna Wood-Craig’s “celebrity waiters” at the annual dinner for Hospice and Palliative Care of Chenango County. It’s an easy gig, really (Tim won’t let us handle the actual dinner plates), but we work hard for our tips – all handed back over to Hospice, of course. Always a good time, even if I do end up with “She Works Hard for the Money” going through my head all night.

• Election season is upon us in full force, and my reporters have been busy tracking down town board, clerk and highway superintendent candidates in the hinterlands of Chenango County – not an easy task, I assure you. Wrong phone numbers, no phone number at all, works night shift, no voicemail, unreturned calls – I’ve heard the moans and groans from my staff repeatedly over the past couple weeks. Makes you wonder – if a candidate for public office is this inaccessible to the news media offering to promote their campaign, how reachable will they be to their constituents?

• The folks at the SPCA (Sue Reymers, to be exact) contacted me recently about resurrecting the “Pet of the Week” feature in The Evening Sun – pictures of a dog and cat available for adoption at the Norwich shelter. It has been a while since we did that on a regular basis, so I jumped at the offer – especially since I know that back when we did do it, the adoption rate was 100 percent on the animals we featured. So if you’re looking for a furry friend, check out today’s Page 12. There’ll be more each week, on varying days.

No pizza for me!

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Brian Golden

Beautiful blue, sunny skies today with highs in the upper fifties. Don’t ask me why, but last night I dreamt I was a news meteorologist (a.k.a. weatherman). And while I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never even remotely considered a career on television, the foggy (no pun intended) remnants of said dream have stuck with me all day. Go figure.

Busy night last night with stops at the SPCA – for a photo opportunity and pizza party (no pizza for me, though … had to run) – and the Otselic Valley Junior-Senior High School to check out the kids’ fall production of “The Bully Plays.” Certainly not my favorite drive of all time, but hey, at least it didn’t snow (damn, more weather-related musings).

As is the norm, I enjoyed penning yesterday’s column, this time around on my senseless (and growing) collection of “money saving” store membership cards. And don’t get me wrong, I like to save money just as much as the next guy. My only problem? Why do I have to have a membership card for each and every store within state limits to do so? As I stated in my column, can’t these businesses go back to the good old days of … say … having a sale? And while I’m sure that’s not going to happen any time soon, a man can dream, can’t he?

And no, before you ask, I don’t want to join whatever deal-of-the-month club your business is trying to force me to join, either. Just give me a good deal and stop bugging me when I’m trying to shop!

You’ll notice my use of the rare and mysterious exclamation point and … yes … I feel that strongly about it.

Moving right along, I spent fifteen minutes or so today looking back through the 91 blogs preceding this one and realized it’s been awhile since I pulled out a Brian Golden Top Ten list of any kind. I suppose I’ll remedy that soon, although a topic isn’t jumping right out at me at this time. Any ideas? Feel free to leave a comment, drop me an e-mail or tweet me your thoughts. As always, we live to please here at The Evening Sun.

And that – as they say – is that for the day. Considering I’ve got an hour or so to spare until I make my escape out of the office, I suppose I’ll go ahead and get a head start on tomorrow’s stories … a) because it never hurts to be prepared (the Boy Scout in me) … and b) you never know what’s going to happen between now and morning (alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, meteor strike, swarms of locusts and the like).

Happy Thursday before election day

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Shawn Magrath

It’s tough to believe that the holiday season has come crashing down on us already. Department stores are exploiting the season with Christmas displays and my wife found the radio station that plays 24 hour Christmas music from now until January – I’m OK though. I’ve prepared for this. If I knew putting up a tree in my living room would help to speed the season along a little, I would do it this afternoon. But realistically, I know that would just result in a very dead tree by Christmas time – you know, the real Christmas time that’s still nearly two months away.

I’m excited to have talked to some excellent candidates for the upcoming elections. Given, there have been a few not so good ones and even a few that I wouldn’t trust to tie my shoe but in the effort of remaining optimistic, I have to put some real thought into who I’m going to vote for this year. That’s much better than my previous approach of closing my eyes and pointing to a name. Best of luck to all candidates.

I feel that I have to share the topic of an article I read online this week regarding a man’s recent observation that men have recently become the butt of jokes on TV. I’m not so much offended by the accusation (ironically) as I am that it took so long for the writer to notice this. Didn’t the rest of the world meet Homer Simpson in 1987 and has since been introduced to his brilliant ideas like “the make-up gun” and the “the automatic hammer?” Actually, any sitcom that comes to mind makes the male a lightning rod of scrutiny – my personal favorite being Tim Allen in “Home Improvement” – need I say more? It’s really just a passing thought, but maybe noticing the declaration of male stupidity in the media was a delayed response; it’s two decades too late. In fact, just now noticing isn’t really helping men at all. We’ve really lost a lot of ground since Atticus Finch.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
Patrick Newell

Norwich football coach John Martinson made some small tactical changes on offense against Johnson City last Saturday, avoiding plays that were not likely to work. “We knew we weren’t going to get anything outside running the ball or with bootlegs,” Martinson said. “We stayed patient with our game plan (running inside) and our running backs followed their blocks.” Defensively, Norwich was in attack mode from the start recovering one of JC’s five lost fumbles on that initial possession. “We came after them and we didn’t stop,” Martinson said of a Tornado defense that forced six turnovers. “We were hungry on the defensive side of the ball, and to shut out a team like Johnson City that ran it so well against us two weeks ago, that says a lot about these kids.”

Bainbridge-Guilford’s volleyball team did not get off to a good start losing three of its first four matches in September. Head coach Pam Tompkins had an extremely green crew of players, and was just hoping to develop skills. By season’s end, the Bobcats were one of the best teams in the Midstate Athletic Conference, and finished with 10 wins. Tompkins credited the extra work of B-G athletics director, Greg Warren, and the team’s boosters for their efforts this season. Warren made some schedule additions in which the Bobcats were able to play in high-level tournaments at Johnson City and Union-Endicott. Meanwhile, the boosters bought a training aid, a “Spike-It,” a device to help her front line develop their hits. “Our AD really worked hard for us this year,” Tompkins said. “He got us into those tournaments against bigger schools, and it was hard. Those teams kicked our butts, but playing against better competition made a big difference. (Our players) learned a lot more than if they just played in our league.”

Elmira Notre Dame eliminated the Greene girls’ varsity team in the quarterfinals last weekend. It was the second straight year the Crusaders ousted the Trojans, but this game was much more competitive. END scored with 10 minutes left in regulation, and tacked on an insurance goal in the late stages of the second half after the Trojans had pushed up their formation in an effort to tie the game. Trojans sophomore, Paige Wilcox, entered the game with 39 goals, likely a Chenango County single-season record for girls. Already with 60-plus career goals, Wilcox failed to find the net, and it wasn’t due to any special attention the END paid toward the speedy Trojans striker. “It didn’t matter where we put her on the field, the ball just wasn’t coming to her that much,” said Greene coach Brandy Stone. “It was just the nature of the game. She did have a couple crosses that she almost finished, but in general, she didn’t get as many touches.” Wilcox is on pace for around 130 goals for her career, a total that would shatter her school record, and likely break every career scoring mark in Chenango County soccer history.

Anyone who has wandered in the vicinity of my cubicle the past 16 years knows I am not in love with the task of typing in local bowling scores. I have fairly decent typing skills, but my ability to type 60 to 65 words a minute takes a hit when a good percentage of your keystrokes includes voluminous numerical entries. From my first week on the job in 1995, a stack of papers with Norwich bowling results arrived at my desk. That is, until this past year. The only scores I received last year came by e-mail from Del Law, secretary of the Tuesday PM Mixed League. As of this fall, Del is still the only person submitting league results. As long as Norwich has had bowling alleys, the league standings and high scores have been published in The Evening Sun. Even though typing in umpteen league results is not my most enjoyable task, it is local sports news with a long affiliation with our paper. I encourage any league secretaries with a desire to publish their league’s results to contact me at my work e-mail at
pnewell@evesun.com. Even if you don’t type 60 to 65 words a minute, the five to 10 minutes it takes to shoot off a message to me will put you in good stead with league members and sponsors.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat