Archive for January, 2012

Editor’s Notebook: 1/31/12

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Jeff Genung

• So if March comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion … what happens when January goes out like a … flamingo?

• Chenango County Habitat for Humanity has picked its next project family – Lorraine Cornish and her two sons of Bainbridge. Here’s an organization which has helped several families over the years – with a hand up, not a hand out – in providing affordable housing built from the ground up. This is a non-profit with international fame, of course, but they operate with relatively little fanfare in Chenango County, save for a cadre of dedicated volunteers and a handful of very happy families. I still think it’s pretty amazing that we have an effort of that caliber right here in our own community.

• The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta tried faxing The Evening Sun this morning – only they had my desk phone number. One of those annoying robo-calls that keeps trying until it gives up. They never did get a fax through. Or an e-mail. Or a phone call. I hope we didn’t miss something important, or something to do with Gwyneth Paltrow. Wearing a mask to go grocery shopping tonight just in case.

• Heard of a few people scrambling for those now sold-out Fur Ball tickets. Would it be wrong to scalp tickets for an SPCA fundraiser?

• In case you’ve missed our in-house advertising, or the Facebook post, we’ve got a new columnist starting on our sports page on Thursday. George Franke has taken on the mantle of outdoors columnist from the late, great and sorely missed Bob McNitt. George and I have both acknowledged that no one can ever replace Bob, but there’s an avid group of outdoor sports enthusiasts among our readership here in the Land of the Bullthistle, and it’s an audience that deserves to be addressed. I’m looking forward to seeing what George will do with it. Look for his new column every Thursday in section 2.

A stay-in-school law?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Shawn Magrath

Every now and then, I like to skim the 30 seconds page on the Evening Sun website to find a good blogging topic. To my dismay, not many people have commented on the President’s proposal to make it a federal law that students stay in school until the age of 18 or until they graduate. People resort to 30 seconds to vent about everything from politics to the weather to the pedestrian in the crosswalk that didn’t give the courtesy wave after a car stopped to let them by. I was sure that this new step toward education reform would draw more attention.

Which brings me to my rant. I was a little disappointed when I heard the President’s proposal. And for those who think it’s a plus that at least he recognizes education as an issue, of course he does; he’s a politician. Every politician is pro education (I hear it’s good for their careers to not want dumb kids). Realistically, such a law isn’t doing any favors for students or for education in general. It’s great to suggest, encourage, inspire, motivate students to stay in school, but forcing them to attend isn’t going to have a positive impact for a number of reasons and I hope that’s something legislators will see.

Instead, wouldn’t it be great for educators to embellish learning according to students’ interests to hamper the drop-out rate? Good teachers already make this a priority but federal and state mandates – along with budget cuts and increasing class sizes – are making it increasingly difficult to follow through. If government wants to keep dabbling with new mandates in education, why not give educators a little more free reign instead of backing them into a corner so they have to (as I’ve heard so many teachers say) teach to the test? Rather than making it illegal for students to drop out of school, maybe more attention should be directed toward restoring some of the resources and flexibility for doing what most teachers want to do: Educate and inspire.

That being said, how about the weather? It’s a gorgeous day and I’m sure it’s putting all the 2012 apocalypse and Mayan-calendar-end-of-days believers in a spin. Hang in there for another 11 months.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/30/12

Monday, January 30th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Winter seems to be teasing us a bit here in the Land of the Bullthistle, with an inch or two of snow here, a bitter cold snap there. Just yesterday I was playing with my dog up at Rotary Park in gorgeous afternoon sunshine, and this morning I had to shovel my sidewalk. Gotta love Central New York.

• Speaking of which, although it’s plenty cold today, it really hasn’t been for long – prompting the Oxford Lions Club to move the annual Chenango Lake Perch Derby from this Saturday to Feb. 18.

• Shawn had a story today about the SPCA’s annual Fur Ball fundraiser coming up on the 11th, but I heard after we’d gone to press that they are indeed sold out. It’s the social event of the season, it seems – a good time for a good cause at the perfect time of year when we need to get out of the house the most. While you can no longer get tickets to the event, you can, of course, make a donation to the SPCA and help Chenango’s four-footed friends get through another year.

• Julian’s story today was about the Oxford Library planning a tea featuring young ladies and their ‘American Girl’ dolls. All well and good for them, certainly, but frankly I find these diminutive girl dolls utterly creepy. Perhaps in the more Cabbage Patch than Chuckie way, but still.

Great Progress and (long sigh) another debate.

Friday, January 27th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

Wow, am I glad it’s Friday. I have nothing to really complain about from the last week but each day seemed defy the laws of time and space, lasting much longer than the day before.

Speaking of things lasting much longer than they should, another republican primary aired last night. In case you’re wondering, I believe that was debate number 25. There have been seven debates in January alone. That’s right, there have been more debates in the last few weeks than there have been new episodes of “How I Met Your Mother.” Then again, maybe we needed to see another debate last night; after all, it had been a whopping four days since the last one.

As part of my own agenda, my graduate courses begin again next week, just when I worried that I was getting too much free time after my Progress Chenango adventure.

Progress Chenango, by the way, was well worth the work put into it – not just for readers, but for me too. It was a great experience and an eye opener to see that while local businesses have their share of successes from the past year, state funding continues to hinder local non profits. All in all, to me anyway, it hardly seems fair that some larger corporations like Norwich Pharmaceuticals can plan to invest more money into the company than it has in the last ten years while places like the Norwich City School District and Opportunities for Chenango are forced to tweak their budget and brace for another year of hard fiscal cuts in the state’s budget.

But that’s not to say that this year’s growth in the private sector hasn’t been great news for the county. After all, the expansion of local industries brings the need for more employees and the need for new employees leads to a healthier local economy. Frontier Communications, in particular, has had a tremendous year and their growth led to hiring more than 130 people in the area and that really is good news so all is not doom an gloom in the area. Chenango County really is making its mark.

I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to everyone during my first experience with Progress. Yeah, it meant extra time spent staring at my computer screen at night and less time doing something… you know… fun, but it was well worth it. Check out the last two sections of Progress in today’s paper.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Patrick Newell

hen you report basketball games night in and night out, you often notice trends. What is “trending” now is abysmal foul shooting amongst the eight Chenango County-area clubs that we cover. Doing the math, there are five starters per team and 16 total teams between the boys and girls for a total of 80 starting players. Can you guess how many total players average 70 percent from the foul line or better? How about 65 percent? Keep reading, and I’ll reveal my numbers at the end. Another trend that caught my eye was the poor foul shooting of athletes who were either named all-stars in their league or to our postseason All-Evening Sun team a season ago. Take a gander at these shoddy foul shooting percentages: 36.1, 42.8, 43.1, 47.1, 50.0, and 51.4. These are free throw shooting percentages (with a minimum of 20 attempts) of excellent players, many of whom do not hesitate to fire up three-pointers from the 20-foot range. Yet, give them a straight-on, unguarded 15-footer – and 10 seconds to shoot the freebie – and they struggle. To be fair, I should point out our most distinguished free throw shooters. The list is fairly short. On the girls’ side, Sherburne-Earlville senior, Cassie Beaver, is shooting a remarkable 81.6 percent from the stripe. Beaver’s rate is nine percent higher than the next-best girls free throw shooter, Jordan Anderson of Unadilla Valley (72.7 percent). On the boys’ side, Norwich’s Dennis Oralls tops our list (again, only those with at least 20 free throws qualify). The Norwich senior is hitting 79.7 percent this season, and his percentage is probably well over 80 percent during the fourth quarter. Oxford’s Ryan Moore, who attempts just under two free throws per game, was next at 77.2 percent from the foul line. And now, the most revealing statistic: All told, out of the 80 starting players, only 11 average 70 percent or better from the charity stripe. That is roughly one out of eight players that can be counted on to make free throws. It doesn’t get any better as we drop our expectations with just 14 players eclipsing the 65 percent mark. Free throw shooting is a staple of every basketball practice, and has been for as long as I can remember. So why do we have more Shaquille O’Neal-like foul shooters than Ray Allens? Perhaps players are spending too much time polishing individual moves that are long on flash, but short on substance.

Congratulations to the Sherburne-Earlville boys’ basketball team, who clinched the Center State Conference Division One title Thursday night at Mount Markham. Winning teams have become more common at S-E over the past several years, but division titles have remained quite elusive. Head coach Kevin Vibbard said the division title was just the second for the Marauders over the past 25 years.

Today we unveiled a promotional ad touting new outdoors columnist, George Franke. George will tell you himself that no one can replace the late Bob McNitt, but he has told me he hopes to continue the tradition of fine outdoors reporting established by McNitt over the previous 34 years. Franke’s first column will appear this coming Thursday, Feb. 2

I can’t spill the beans on our athlete of the week, but he is most deserving. During my discussion with the head coach, he gave me one of the best quotes I’ve heard in years. Perhaps it is a budding cliche that this coach borrowed from someone else, but I thought it was a message that all high school athletes should heed. Check it out in Friday’s edition.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Rainy winter days (and Star Wars … of course)

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Brian Golden

I just love a forecast of heavy rain in late January, don’t you? And while it is just a bit disconcerting (if you’re like me and actually buy into that whole climate change conspiracy), I must admit, it’s better than two feet of snow on the ground, a temperature well below the freezing mark and the requisite ear muffs, gloves, scarf and the like.

But I’ll bet you those snowmobile fanatics (I’m certainly not one of them) – not to mention skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts – across the county aren’t very happy about it. Me? I’m hoping for an early, early spring … and sunshine … and shorts … and sandals.

On a more ridiculous (yet absolutely hilarious) note, my favorite ‘30 Seconds’ entry of the day (the online version).
“ … Romney was on the ‘Today Show’ and admitted he likes to read the ‘Twilight’ books and watch ‘American Idol.’ If elected, he would be the first Mormon and the first 13-year-old girl to be president.”

Oh my, you ‘30 Seconds’ folks are a hoot, let me tell you. But I did laugh/snort out loud at that one.

Moving on to the “most-eye-catching-story-of-the-day,” which I discovered while perusing CNN.com, a mysterious object found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Nobody’s quite sure what the strange, 60 meter wide structure and/or spaceship really is, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t bear a striking resemblance to the Millennium Falcon. Just saying.

Obviously, I’ve been thinking about the Star Wars, Episodes IV, V and VI, Blue Ray collection I received for my 35th birthday – which has been collecting dust for the most part over the past two weeks – far too much.

Which brings me to this interesting little tidbit. Did you know that our News Edit spell check does not, in fact, recognize the terms “lightsaber,” “Jedi,” “Sith,” “Corellian,” “droids” or Wookie.”

What, may I ask, is wrong with this picture?

With that in mind, my quote of the day … “That’s ‘cause droids don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose … Wookies are known to do that.”

Take that, spell check.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/25/12

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Not really a big shocker that the proposed ambulance district got shot down yesterday in both New Berlin and Columbus – judging by ‘30 Seconds,’ anyway. I’m not sure people really understood what they were voting on despite our best efforts to keep them informed, but the mob mentality was certainly against it. I can’t help but hear the late Kathy O’Hara’s voice in my head sometimes — when discussing editorial topics, she’d say, in her best Chenango twang, “Are we fer it, er agin’ it?” Stay tuned; I’m sure there’s more to this story.

• Accidents are never good news, of course, but they do often make for great pictures. We used a couple in the print edition today (that intersection in Oxford has been scary since I was a little kid), but I put even more of Brian’s photos up on our Facebook page because, darn it, helicopter rescues are pretty dramatic.

• Progress Chenango 2012 continues to roll out this week – sections 5 and 6 were in today’s edition. I’ve heard a lot of positive comments so far, which is exactly what we’re looking for. Not positive as in “praise us, we’re wonderful” (although that’s always nice, too), but as in “wow, Chenango’s really got something special going on.” That’s why we do it, you know — to highlight the “Progress” our community is making every day. And there’s a lot of it!

• Caught quite a bit of the State of the Union address last night, although I admit to nodding off near the end (I’m getting old, what can I say?) My favorite part isn’t necessarily the speech itself (that gets analyzed and ripped apart ad nauseam immediately after and for days), but rather the entrance shots. Watching the President arrive anywhere is always a tad awe-inspiring, but at the State of the Union in particular I’d pay to be a fly on the wall. All those politicians jockey for position to get close to the aisle as the president walks in, each hoping to get his attention – or curry his favor – for 15 seconds or so. If only the commentators weren’t chattering over every barely discernible syllable … I’d love to know how the president’s ear was bent last night.

Progress, State of the Union, MVAs and Big Blue

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Brian Golden

We Evening Sun staff writers can whine and moan all we want, but when it’s all said and done, there’s definitely something special about living through another successful year of the controlled chaos that is Progress Chenango. Sure, it means extra work. And yes, it can be more-than-a-little stressful, but in the end, it really is worth it, which is why today’s column was dedicated to our annual Progress Edition.

And now that it’s over, onward and upward.

Well, I completely forgot all about last night’s State of the Union address, much to my dismay (thank God for You Tube, right?). Not that it matters, really, considering all I have to do is check out ‘30 Seconds’ and – more often than not – I can get a feel of sorts for how it all panned out. Republicans and other right-leaning voters calling our president names and blaming all manner of problems on his decisions (many of which have absolutely nothing to do with his decisions)? Chances are (if that’s the case … which it was), I would’ve applauded our Commander in Chief. Sorry, but I happen to think the middle class deserves a chance and – if Obama is not re-elected – let’s just say I’m of the firm opinion that we’re pretty much … err … you know … done for.

Never a dull moment, eh? Just about to put dinner in the oven yesterday afternoon when a call came in over the scanner reporting a two-car motor vehicle accident in the Town of Oxford. And even though it’s my job to jump in the car and proceed to the site of such events (as quickly as possible, I might add), that doesn’t mean I get any kind of warm, fuzzy feeling when it happens. Personally, I try to look at it from a different perspective, in that it’s my responsibility – a privilege, really – to snap some photos of our county’s emergency and law enforcement personnel in action. I certainly hate to see people get hurt and – if that should ever change – I suppose it would be time to call it a day. I may be a journalist, but I do have a heart. Really, I do.

In other news … my New York Football Giants are headed – unbelievably – to the Super Bowl. Not sure how they got there, but I can honestly say I’m beyond excited. What can I say? I have fond memories of Super Bowls XXI (vs. Broncos), XXV (vs. Bills) and XLII (vs. Patriots). Super Bowl XXXV (vs. Ravens) … well, not so much. This time around it’s the Patriots once again and (obviously) I’m hoping for a repeat performance from Big Blue. GO GIANTS!

Editor’s Notebook: 1/23/12

Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Jeff Genung

• As of early this afternoon, I am officially done with Progress Chenango 2012. For you, of course, it’s just beginning – with Sections 1 and 2 (of 10!) included in today’s paper. If you haven’t seen our Progress editions before, a.) Why are you reading this blog? and b.) I think you’ll really be amazed at the tremendous amount of business success, innovation and ingenuity that we have going on here. I know I am, and I’ve seen every one of ‘em.

• Someone called today and asked, in all seriousness, if a certain town supervisor requires that he read our notes after a reporter attends a town meeting and “approves” them. Umm, no. Supervisors and town boards may well approve the official minutes taken by the town clerk, but not those of a reporter. Ever. Sorry, caller, if I choked a little bit on that one. Whoever told you that was pulling your leg, or amazingly ignorant.

• Congratulations to Brad Ward, the latest in a long line of Eagle Scout Wards. Julian’s done a couple nice stories on Brad’s recognition and his Eagle Scout project at Rotary Park. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Brad act his heart out on the Sherburne-Earlville stage a few times, too. Good kid. Always nice when we’re able to highlight the achievements of high school students, particularly (for me, anyway) off the playing field. If you know of more who deserve the spotlight, give us a call!

• Wow, you really can’t shake a stick … err … spoon … without hitting a story on Chobani in the media these days. While we’ve done about a hundred of our own, of course, I decided to give the Associated Press version front page play today too, especially since it addressed the whole Greek yogurt craze in general. If you’re reading this, Agro Farma, I have not had a chance to taste test the pomegranate flavor yet. Please and thank you.

Dipping into life savings to go to the movies.

Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Shawn Magrath

After a day of feeling a little under the weather, I’m ready to get some 40 degree fresh air. Days like this just make me wish a little bit harder for spring.

It was a good weekend for me, filled with no plans and no particular place to be – a nice change of pace for a weekend. The wife and I went to a move and $30 later (admit two for the movie, one small soda and one small popcorn), I can say that I if we start saving now, we’ll be able to do it again by the year 2015… as long as we don’t really need groceries that week too. When did the movies get so expensive? (Side note: We saw “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” I thought it was OK but I set the bar pretty high and it didn’t quite live up to my expectations).

Speaking of high expectations (nice segue, right?), the first two sections of Progress Chenango came out in today’s paper. The next two will be in tomorrow’s paper, sections five and six in Wednesday’s and… well you see where this is going. Anyhow, if you’re curious to see what some of the county’s biggest for profit and non profit organizations are up to, it’s worth checking out ( and it’s some of the finest writing out there, if I do say so myself).

It’s Superbowl season and as one who isn’t really a football fan, I just thought it was worth mentioning since Superbowl Sunday is an unofficial holiday in this country. I don’t care about the game (or the commercials) but I think I’ll order a pizza that night anyway – just so I don’t feel left out. GO GIANTS… or Patriots… Whatever, I don’t care.