Archive for January, 2012

Editor’s Notebook: 1/20/12

Friday, January 20th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• TGIF! Well, for me it’s still about Wednesday afternoon. I’ve got a long weekend ahead of me, office-bound, finishing off the last few sections of Progress Chenango 2012. The 10-section, 70-page extravaganza rolls out starting in Monday’s Evening Sun with sections 1 and 2. Check your local newsstands for the most comprehensive picture of Chenango County’s economic climate you’ll find! I’m always amazed at the tremendous amount of ingenuity, innovation and perseverance displayed by our local business community – and I hope that after you’ve read through what is our greatest effort of the year, that you will be too.

• The District Attorney’s office was busy this week – the grand jury handed up 17 indictments. The things people do … always an interesting read.

• Today was the last day of a two-week stint for our BOCES intern Darien Grippaldi (he’s the one who took all of our snowfall photos for Facebook last week). Though his formal internship has ended, he’s asked to stick around the newsroom and learn even more. I think it’s pretty neat that we’re a small enough operation to provide these types of opportunities for interested students. I guess we’re a charming bunch, to boot.

• Someone on ‘30 Seconds’ suggested that technological advancements might make it possible – and prudent – for us to administer breathalyzer tests before allowing people to post on our popular reader reaction line. What? And spoil all the fun? Friends certainly don’t let friends drive drunk, but I’m pretty sure that they encourage them to post to online forums anonymously drunk.

• Anonymously drunk? That sentence was pretty clunky, but it’s Friday afternoon and my grammar-vision is fading fast. Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012

Friday, January 20th, 2012
Patrick Newell

One thing we in the media have a hard time ignoring is a state ranking. In high school sports, a state ranking is nothing more than bragging rights, but it is also fodder for discussion. And, truth be told, touting a team’s state ranking has stretched out many a story in this reporter’s career. No, the state ranking does not guarantee any type of higher seeding or favorable playoff matchup. The subjectivity on this level of sports is far more significant than collegiate or professional sports, so it’s hard to truly assess every team. Nonetheless, we will still point out that Norwich’s girls basketball team was ranked number 16 in last week’s Class B poll. The Tornado were scheduled to play at number 12 ranked Oneonta last Friday in a matchup of the highest ranking Section IV Class B schools in New York State. Inclement weather postponed that contest, and the reschedule date is tentatively slated for Monday, Feb. 6. Also ranked in the Class B poll is Seton Catholic Central at number 19. Norwich suffered an opening-game loss to the Saints on Nov. 25, but have since won 10 out of 11 games. On the boys’ side, Norwich stands at 10-2 overall and is ranked number 20 in Class B. The rankings, through Jan. 8 games, do not include NHS’s victories last week over Oneonta and Chenango Valley, and Tuesday’s victory over Chenango Forks.

Perhaps you have noticed a couple of wrestling photos in the past week that were taken by Oxford graduate, Keith Lanfear. Lanfear is an avid photographer, and with sports, his primary focus is local wrestling. We greatly appreciate his contributions, and if you’re interested in contacting him to about photos, his website is www.momentcaptured.smugmug.com.

I promised some more information on our new outdoors writer, George Franke, who plans to begin his weekly column Thursday, Feb. 2. In his biography, Franke said he began his love affair with the outdoors at age eight as a fisherman, and began to hunt at age 14. “Who can forget their first fish?” Franke said. “My love of the outdoors sports continues to grow, even after catching that first first back in 1967.” Franke’s interests range from hunting and fishing, and extend to hiking, camping, snowshoeing, skiing, bicycling, trapping, and natural history. He has gone beyond that to foraging for mushrooms, birdwatching, fly tying, fishing rod building, ammo reloading, trap, skeet, and target shooting, wildlife restoration and volunteering to help promote various causes all associated with the great outdoors. Franke is currently a Patron Life Member in the NRA, and Life Member in Safari Club International, Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society, and NY Bowhunters, Inc.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Was it a good decision?

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

Like most readers, I was a little surprised to see that the city voted down a proposed zoning change earlier this week. And, like most readers, it didn’t really affect me one way or the other because I didn’t really have a dog in that fight. However, unlike most readers, I commend the council on their decision not to follow through with the zoning change.

I guess I just put myself in the shoes of those opposing the change. If I bought a house in a residential neighborhood, I wouldn’t expect the city to pull the rug out from underneath my feet because my neighbor wanted to open a garage/disco/barbacue joint/laundromat/hair care center/air port next to me. (In this case, it’s not so much the proposed auto repair business that bothered me as it was the potentially adverse effects of changing mandated zones to allow one business to do what it wants).

I admit that some arguments made opposing the change were… well… they were pretty weak (after all, neighborly disputes have nothing to do with the issue that was at hand and a zone change wouldn’t make a neighbor vanish into thin air). But I also saw a lot of merit to some of the arguments that hit more close to home.

Strongest argument in my book? Several people own houses within that zone and a zoning change gives potential for other businesses to more easily take advantage of that area. That’s good for the local economy, right. But then again, so isn’t filling vacant storefronts along main street. The only difference is that a focus on those storefronts doesn’t impact local residents the way this zoning change would have. Altering city zones to accommodate one business only opens the flood gates for more to happen (which is bad news for the people that live on that entire block). What I learned from a popular children’s book, “if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.”

Hey, let’s talk about the morals in all this. (I know you’re thinking “what do teeth have to do with it?”). Should the law be changed upon the request of one individual? Here’s a kick in the head… If my apartment building doesn’t allow cats because my neighbors are all allergic but as a cat lover, I ask that my lease be changed so that only my apartment allows my cuddly, lovable feline companions. Should it be allowed? Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

On top of all this, I really don’t think that the proposed location would have been the best spot for a garage to begin with. But we need jobs, you say? How many jobs could be provided by a garage that can’t take in more than two cars at a time? But we need businesses you say? OK, the zoning change would have allowed for one more business – at least temporarily. In such a tight, somewhat hidden location, how long would it have really lasted? Yeah, the city should be “business friendly” but allowing any business to go anyplace isn’t being business friendly more than it is being reckless. Anyone familiar with the game of chess knows a game can’t be won by randomly moving pieces. There’s a certain strategy involved. If someone wants to open a repair garage, I’m all on board (after all, I don’t trust my Pontiac any further than I can throw it) but even from a business stand point, there are much, much better places to do it.

And at long last … I blog

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
Brian Golden

Yes, I know, it’s been eons since I last blogged. And no, I have no excuse for my laziness, I’ve simply been busy with other things, namely Progress Chenango.

I’d like to say the Progress monster has – at long last – released me from its tenacious grasp, but that would simply not be true. I have one last assignment to take care of Friday and then – and only then – shall I be set free. Our esteemed editor, on the other hand, is now in the midst of the controlled chaos that is Progress and – it must be said – I feel for him.

At least the end – as they say – is in sight, right Jeff?

Moving on, however, it must be said that this week’s column was a long time coming, and it’s a topic I’ve discussed at length over the past several weeks. What can I say? I simply do not understand how anyone can justify getting paid to relay – let alone forecast – something as unpredictable as the weather.

As for the continuing laughingstock that is the Republican race for the presidency, well, I honestly don’t know what to say. There’s not a single Republican candidate that I would trust to balance my checkbook (if I had one, that is) let alone tackle the many issues facing our country today. Sorry (not really), but none of them – not … a … single … one – seem to have any kind of empathy for your average American and if one should ascend to the presidency, I have a strong feeling that we, the middle class dregs of society, will be the ones to suffer.

The mega-rich corporations (not to mention those wealthy folks that make up the one percent), on the other hand, look to make out pretty good if that should happen. Just saying.

Personally, I’m sick and tired of politics, politicians and the upcoming presidential election already. And it’s only January. Which is not a good sign. If only there was a way I could alter time, speed up the harvest or teleport myself off this rock …

Too much Star Wars since I received Episodes IV, V and VI on Blue Ray for my birthday, I guess.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/17/12

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Finally some good news about Kurt Beyer Pool! The Greater Norwich Foundation has stepped up to the plate … err, diving board … and pledged a hefty chunk of change towards the pool’s repair – with the smart caveat that the city pony up and follow through on their end, too. Similar pledges will show that Norwich’s charitable trusts really are there when you need them – thanks to their generosity, Norwich’s hot and bothered might just have a place to cool off this summer. Kudos too to the Facebook efforts of the “Save Kurt Beyer Pool” page which will see average citizens (those without the multi-million dollar checkbooks) pitching in to do their part, as well. People from all walks of life uniting for the greater good … kinda makes you proud to live in Norwich, no?

• I have to give a tip of the hat … err, rifle scope? My metaphors are strained today … to the organizers of the Bob McNitt Foundation, recently formed to honor the memory of The Evening Sun’s longtime colleague (and my old friend) Bob McNitt, whose outdoor sports column graced these pages for decades. The foundation is seeking support to start up an archery program at the Norwich Middle School, which sounds like it would have been right up Bob’s alley. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with an arrow when I was in Middle School (the late Mr. Tryon would certainly attest), but still it sounds like a wonderful program of which Bob would have been proud to have been a part.

• I tweeted earlier that I’ve been eating a lot of Cheez-Its lately. I’m on my second box since Progress began. This might be the death of me. Headed home now for a (hopefully) sensible dinner and then it’s back to the grind – tonight, Progress Section 4! Woo-hoo.

Just a little clarity, please

Monday, January 16th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

I suppose we all knew that winter would rear its ugly and bitter cold head sometime. There’s no better way to rekindle my love for wool socks than subzero temperatures.

So progress… Actually there isn’t much more to say about progress that hasn’t already been said. But after a very low key weekend, I was anxious to come back to work today. I guess I’m still propelled by the momentum of my first experience with Progress Chenango. It’s like running with weights; when that extra weight is shed, running comes a lot easier. So too is how it works the week after progress, I guess.

I’m trying to keep an eye on the feats and failures of all the GOP candidates, I really am. I’m someone who takes my 30 seconds in the voting booth very seriously and want to be sure I vote for the best person to rework the grooves in the chair behind the desk in the oval office. But I’m finding it incredibly difficult this election year. Actually, with all the mudslinging from both ends of the political spectrum, I’m not really clear on where any candidates, including the current President, stand on any one particular issue. So from now on, I would appreciate it if all debate moderators rephrased their questions to closed ended questions that only require a “Yes” or “No” response from each candidate. Let’s see if then I can cut through some of the crap that’s said. Easy enough, right? “Yes.”

While it seemed unlikely that the pool would open again for the second year in a row, some people are stepping up to raise the money to have the pool fixed by summer. I can’t say that I personally have ever used (or ever will use) a public pool for my own reasons but I really respect those that see the pool as a valuable asset to the community. Kudos to everyone taking the initiative to preserve it.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/16/12

Monday, January 16th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Err … happy? Never sure if we’re supposed to be happy or solemn. No matter … seems like I’m the only one working today anyway.

• Cold enough for ya? Stop asking me that, seriously. I’ve ordered my Hot Booties Microwaveable Slippers, if that tells you anything.

• While the reporters’ deadline for Progress stories came and went Friday without any casualties (at least one newsroom sleepover nothwithstanding), my work started in earnest Saturday morning. So far, so good – I’ll be assembling the rest of the 10-section behemoth every night this week and well into next weekend. Start looking for the fruits of our labors in next Monday’s Evening Sun.

• On a related note, Progress kept me in the office Saturday night well past the time when anyone should be awake on Lackawanna Avenue – and yet it seems everyone was. I’m normally not scared of my own shadow, but I certainly made sure all the blinds were closed and doors locked. This, my friends, is a rough neighborhood at night.

• Kudos to Jessica Lange, whose unforgettable turn as twisted ghost whisperer Constance Langdon on FX’s “American Horror Story” won her a much-deserved Golden Globe last night. The only award I really cared about, and of course I missed it. Because I switched the channel to “Downton Abbey,” of course.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012

Thursday, January 12th, 2012
Patrick Newell

It’s been nearly three weeks since my last blog, and I have a bunch of quick hitters to throw out there:

* Looking through the season records of local wrestlers, only two have yet to lose a match – Oxford sophomore Joe Nelson, and Greene junior Mike Beckwith. A handful of grapplers have just one setback. Those one-loss wrestlers include Kyle Stanton and Keegan Cerwinski of Greene; Frank Garcia, Tristan Rifanburg, and Kegan Levesque of Norwich; and Spencer Franklin of Sherburne-Earlville. There are other wrestlers with either unbeaten records or just one loss, but those wrestlers have less than 10 matches this season.

* Norwich’s boys’ basketball team improved to 9-2 Wednesday night beating Chenango Valley on the road. The Tornado are a perfect 4-0 as the visitor, and have played especially well in all of those games. “The kids have been up against a lot this season, and have shown themselves to be resilient,” said Norwich coach Tom Collier. “I think that maybe they aren’t as nervous playing on the road. (Playing on the road) bands them together and has made them tighter.”

* More from Norwich basketball: If you have been to a game this year, you’ll notice that Tom Collier often steps aside during timeouts, and instead relies on his son Brian, an assistant coach, to draw up plays and discuss strategy with the players. The Norwich coaching staff also includes Section IV Hall-of-Famer Tom Dixon, who amassed over 400 career wins as a varsity basketball coach – most of those at New Berlin. “Our coaching staff is a lot like our team,” Tom Collier said. “Everyone is working toward the same goal. One guy adds this, another guy adds this…we all have experience and expertise in different areas.”

* It’s been several years since Bainbridge-Guilford’s boys basketball team has been a factor in the Midstate Athletic Conference. With four wins in a row, B-G is putting itself in position to make the top four in the season-ending conference tournament. During the current win streak, B-G is allowing less than 40 points per game, and that includes holding Hancock to just 39 points. As a basis for comparison, Hancock scored 84 points against Unadilla Valley last week, and 66 against Greene, a 75-point average. Over the last four games, Ryan Porter is averaging 17.5 points per game, and Brooks Harmon 13.

* Some three-point shooting facts: Norwich’s boys have 59 three balls in 11 games to lead the area, but Unadilla Valley’s boys lead in three-pointers per game at 5.6 per contest. The Storm have 50 trifectas in just nine contests. On the girls’ side, Greene is the clear leader with 38 in 10 games. No other team has as many as 20 three balls this season. Greene guard Kaitlin Gorton, whose six threes Wednesday gave her 25 on the season, has eight more than the next highest team – G-MU with 17.

* Sherburne-Earlville senior Briana Vibbard has spent three-plus seasons on the varsity basketball team. Until last week, she had one career double figures scoring game. The last three she amassed career-high games of 18 and 22 points, and followed that up Thursday evening with an 11-point game against DeRuyter in about half a game’s playing time. Vibbard is a tremendous on-the-ball defender, and has created a number of scoring opportunities out of her defense. She is also finding more success with her dribble penetration. “She’s someone who still looks to pass first,” said S-E coach Karen Mulligan. “I see her in practice every day, so I’m not surprised by this.”

* It’s been nearly three months since we lost our longtime outdoors writer, Bob McNitt. He spent 34 years writing for us, and was a staple of our Thursday sports section. No one will ever quite fill Bob’s shoes, but we are pleased to have George Franke stepping in as Bob’s successor. George, like Bob, is a lifetime outdoors enthusiast, hunter, fisherman, conservationist, and lobbyist for outdoors issues. We’ll have more on George in coming weeks, and look for his column next month.

* My growth in Twitter followers is edging up with glacier-like speed. For me, the gist of this social networking site is to provide links to stories, and add some on-site updates from where I am reporting. No, I will not give the 411 on what I am eating for dinner or when I plan to brush my teeth. I am, however, receptive to any sport-related “tweeting” ideas. You can join my small cast of followers @evesunpat.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/12/12

Thursday, January 12th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• My flow of front page news typically slows down during this week every year as the threat of our Progress deadline looms for the reporting staff (5 p.m. Friday, in case you’re reading this, kids). But today, an accident and a fire took over the front page. Who says nothing ever happens around here?

• Check out more of Brian Golden’s awesome photos of that medical rescue helicopter on our Facebook page today.

• Speaking of Facebook, I got word today of a community page set up to benefit Kurt Beyer Pool, whose closure has been such a hot topic of late. Visit the page here. And stay tuned … I know that at least one local charitable foundation has stepped up to the plate (or the diving board) to help the cause. We’ll have a story on that soon, too.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/10/12

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• No city pool this summer? Well you’d think … wait a minute, I already did that one. And so did every Tom, Dick and Harry on ‘30 Seconds.’ Next!

• As if Progress time at The Evening Sun weren’t bad enough (see 347 previous references), we’ve done lost our photographer – at least temporarily. Well, we know where he is – Frank’s at home recuperating from a minor procedure. All will be well, but we’re without his trusty trigger finger for about two weeks. Luckily, the reporters know how to point and shoot. Still, here’s wishing you a speedy recovery, Chico!

• It’s Primary Day in New Hampshire! I try as much as possible to leave my personal politics out of the newspaper (I’ve been “outed” as a Democrat, Republican, and Nazi over the years — but no Green Party, yet), I must say I breathe a little sigh of relief now that Michelle Bachmann (and by extension, her Ghost of Elections Past doppleganger Sarah Palin) is out of the race. Phew! Missed it by thatmuch.

• On to more important matters, I have to say I’m a little unhealthily obsessed with “Downton Abbey,” which began its second season on PBS Sunday night. I came across it rather serendipitously on Netflix the day after Christmas, and binged on season one for seven hours. If you’re into the whole period drama thing, this one’s for you.

• Got a great call this afternoon from a reader who preferred to remain anonymous, saying he had a great story tip for us. And you know what? He did! Sometimes I cringe when I hear those words, as the caller/writer usually follows it with an accusatory tone, or a “story” which doesn’t qualify as such. Sure, not all tips pan out, but for those that do — we’re extremely grateful. And always willing to listen! Soooo much more credence is given to those who contact us directly rather than relying on the aforementioned ‘30 Seconds.’ Although I have to say, needle in a haystack wise, we have garnered a few choice tidbits from that as well over the years.