Archive for February, 2012

Editor’s Notebook: 2/29/12

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• So much for the “extra” day this year. If it was indeed “extra,” why am I still so far behind? Suck it, Leap Year.

• Speaking of which, this calendar aberration threw a wrench into our ongoing software upgrade/installation in the ES newsroom today. Seems a plug-in for our new program didn’t anticipate the 2/29 date and refused to work. I empathize.

• Newsflash: It’s snowing. Although that’s really all that should be said about the subject, I’m sure Brian will have a story about it in tomorrow’s paper anyway – that scanner was going nonstop this afternoon. Hopefully everyone’s playing it safe out there.

• I’ve refrained from commenting thus far on the whole New Berlin ambulance saga because I simply don’t get it — but it seems to be getting curiouser and curiouser. What’s the motivation for starting a new service, which essentially duplicates an existing one, when no one wants it? OK, to be fair, 10 people want it (the UVAC board). Unless we’re simply not hearing from the supporters, it’s an idea that seems wildly unpopular. What gives?

• And since I’d be remiss if I were not to comment on the current season of American Idol, let me just state for the record that I will not buy an album from anyone named Deandre Brackensick. Or, for that matter, Englebert Humperdinck.

Snow, Snooki, ’30 Seconds’ and more!

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Brian Golden

And … it’s snowing. Not that we should complain or anything, considering we’ve had a fairly mild winter (if you want to call it that) so far this year. Which is not to say I’m looking forward to shoveling come 4 p.m. Then again, I could probably use the exercise (all this sitting-at-a-desk-writing-for-a-living really tends to add on the pounds).

Regardless, here’s my Interesting and/or Idiotic news story for the day (thankfully, it’s not one of mine) … Is Snooki pregnant?
Let’s see … where to begin (and end) with this one? How about … who cares? And here’s my personal checklist when it comes to all things ‘Jersey Shore’ related … a) could care less about Snooki? Check. b) never seen an episode (let alone five minutes) of Jersey Shore? Check. c) Thinks that cast members of Jersey Shore should not be allowed to procreate? Check.

And that about sums that one up.

On to bigger and better things, how about a Best (most ignorant) ‘30 Seconds’ Post of the Day!
Said Man from South New Berlin, “We are not saying Obama is a Muslim. We are saying that he is sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Muslim causes.”

Don’t (and I repeat) … don’t get me started. What is wrong with some people? Saying Obama is sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood is like saying I have a top secret, Swiss Bank account that tops out at … oh, let’s say $2.56 million. It just isn’t so.

And now, last but not least, my quote of the day … “If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.” – Clint Eastwood

Don’t ask me why, but that one always makes me laugh. Thanks, Mr. Eastwood.

It’s people like you that are the backbone of this country

Monday, February 27th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

Another year gone by, another Academy Awards that I didn’t watch. It’s not that I don’t support the arts and film industry; I do… sort of. OK, It’s not that I discourage the arts and film industry, it’s just that I don’t necessarily care to watch an awards show for it.

Newt Gingrich got my attention in a news article I read earlier today. While addressing a conservative crowd at a Georgia church, he said it’s up to God and the American people to decide the next President. I’m not trying to step on toes by mentioning God in a blog; I’m just bringing to light my own self-revelation that candidates know the right things to say in order to appease the right group of people at the right time. What an art! Every speech they give is meticulously tailored for a specific demographic. It reminds me of the Chris Rock movie “Head of State:” “It’s people like you, the ranchers, that are the backbone of this country” … “It’s people like you, the factory workers, that are the backbone of this country” … “It’s people like you, the church people, that are the backbone of this country.” I wonder who Gingrich would have said decides the next President if he weren’t in a church…

Way back in mid-November, I wrote an article involving the Chenango SPCA and took a picture of Bo, a bull terrier mix at the shelter, to go along with the article. Sadly, the dog that became a pseudo celebrity thanks to a headshot on the front page of the Evening Sun is still at the SPCA. Sounds like a sad children’s book to me: “The Puppy that Nobody Wanted.” Best of luck to Bo; hang in there, buddy.

Gas prices have risen for the 20th consecutive day. I’m considering the option of selling my car or trading in for a lama and a saddle. It’s good to keep options open when it comes to alternative modes of transportation.

Editor’s Notebook: 2/27/12

Monday, February 27th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• I figured it was about time I remembered how to blog again, with March drawing nigh and all. I’m hoping despite the slight resurgence of winter over the weekend, that spring really is right around the corner.

• Congratulations to Greene’s Kyle Stanton, whose wrestling triumphs over the weekend made the front page today. Kyle’s the son of my fellow Oxford Academy alum, Janet Ardron Stanton. Kid cuts quite the imposing figure!

• Woo-hoo, another dollar store! Actually, it’s the same dollar store – Dollar Tree has moved from Broad Street to the Tops Plaza on East Main, as NBT’s continued expansion required even more space. Good news? More like shell game, if you ask me. Certainly seems to be a good move for Dollar Tree, and the Tops Plaza looks a lot healthier – but now there’s a giant strip on Broad (first the old A&P, now Dollar Tree – and the old Resnick’s Mattress, et al.) that’s gone from retail space to office space. Which would be a bad thing if retail space downtown were at a premium, but unfortunately it’s not. Six of one, half dozen of another, as my mother would say.

• Big news in the ES newsroom today — we’re embarking on our first major editorial software upgrade since 1994! Seems like only yesterday the good folks of Baseview came out here from Ann Arbor to install NewsEdit for the first time. And while the software did see a series of reiterations through the years, it’s begun to show its age. Today, Baseview’s known as MediaSpan, and instead of a team, we got one guy (progress, presumably) … but I for one am pretty excited. My trusty reporting staff doesn’t do a whole lot beyond your basic word processing, but for someone who works end to end (and under the hood) like me, it’s pretty gosh darn exciting. Between this and the upcoming issue of the iPad 3 … OK, I’m going to stop drooling and move on.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Feb. 24, 2012

Friday, February 24th, 2012
Patrick Newell

Not in favor of Greene policy
No, I do not entirely agree with Greene’s athletics policy that requires its sports teams to finish with at least a 500 record to proceed into postseason play. Our neighbors to the north, Section III, has a mandatory postseason policy in which teams must win at least 40 percent of their games. That percentage seems reasonable, and it can account for some mitigating circumstances. For example, take a look at Marcellus’s varsity basketball team. Just last week, Marcellus traveled to Sherburne-Earlville for a first-round Section III boys basketball playoff game. A month ago, Marcellus had two wins and was headed nowhere fast. Its top inside player – and scorer – was out most of the season due to injury, but he returned for the final seven games. Marcellus won six of those games to finish with an 8-10 record. According to Section III standards, Marcellus’s record was good enough for the postseason, and it made the most of that opportunity defeating higher-seeded S-E last week in overtime. The joy of playing – and winning – a playoff game is an experience those boys will treasure forever. If Marcellus had a Greene-like policy, that game would have never been played. The problem with the Trojans’ .500 requirement is that it does not factor in unforeseen circumstances or how well a team is playing at the end of the year. Sure, most teams with season records of 6-12 or 7-11 are not going to make much of a dent in the playoffs. But who knows for sure? Did anyone think Oxford’s four-win girls soccer team would do much four years ago? I didn’t. All the Blackhawks did was pull one upset after another to reach the Section IV finals. It made for a great story, and Oxford’s young ladies were fashionable in Cinderella’s slippers. While we can foresee the likely result of many contests before they are played, the reality is that sports are not scripted, and anything can happen. The best judge of a team’s preparedness for the postseason is its head coach. If the team is close to a .500 record with either its overall or league record, let the person most intimately involved make the final call on the postseason – the head coach. When in doubt, let the kids play.

HOF inductees
On to good news. Section IV’s Sports Hall of Fame announced its 2012 inductees this week, and three of the athletes I had the pleasure and opportunity to cover. Oxford’s Mike Chrystie, and the Norwich trio of Jason James, Joe Downey, and Katie Almeter will be honored March 3 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. Chrystie, Almeter, and Downey were part of my early years covering local sports, and their accomplishments remain forever embedded in my memory. James was part of Norwich’s back-to-back state championship basketball teams, but he contributed much, much more. He was a tremendous baseball player earning all-star honors in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference all four years, and was a two-way starter at linebacker and fullback for Norwich’s football teams that went 27-4-1 in his three years with the club. Congratulations to the athletes and their families.

State Wrestling Tournament
Saturday I will be in Albany for the New York State Wrestling championships, and throughout the day I will be providing updates of local wrestlers via Twitter. If you’re not a Twitter member, the process to register as a new member is simple. Once you’re good to go, follow me at the address below:

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Trials, tips and tribulations

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
Brian Golden

And another Chenango County Court trial comes to an end, this one Wednesday afternoon following an hour-long wait for the jury to wrap-up its deliberations (story in today’s paper). I’ve only covered a handful of trials as The Evening Sun’s court reporter to date, all in preparation, really, for the big one … The People versus Peter Wlasiuk – part III. Actually, I’m fairly certain people around here have a pretty good idea concerning the details of Wlasiuk’s case and – let’s be honest – how in God’s name are they going to find an impartial jury for this one?

Regardless, I’ll be there come April when the testimony begins (again). As for my personal opinion on the whole deal … mmm … no comment.

You’ve got to love those anonymous tips, especially when they concern any local school district and the inherent disputes that typically arise between administration and educators. And while I’m certainly not going to name any names here (anonymity, remember), I am going to look into this particular matter, which could prove to be … interesting.

And now … favorite funny “newsworthy” story of the day …
Palin aides lash out at HBO’s ‘Game Change’ (Associated Press)
And I quote, “Current and former aides to Sarah Palin lashed out Wednesday at HBO’s ‘Game Change,’ describing the upcoming film’s depiction of her on the 2008 campaign trail as “sick” and inaccurate.”
It’s this next part that really gets me, though …
“None of the aides said they have yet seen the movie …”

I would comment further, but I’m afraid that kind of language could (and probably would) be detrimental to my status as an Evening Sun employee.

With that said, I’m a little upset that scheduling issues have put – not one – but two stories I’d hoped to put to rest this week on hiatus. It’s never fun scrounging for copy at the last minute, which is – sadly – exactly what I’ll be doing this afternoon (hence the pre-lunch blog). Not to worry, though, as I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

Girly movie and… school consolidation?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
Shawn Magrath

So as I mentioned in my last post, I had planned (and I use the word “planned” very loosely) to go see “The Vow” with my wife last weekend. As expected, the movie got me into trouble because according to the wife, I “don’t do anything that romantic.” True. In a theater full of roughly 150 people, about a tenth of them were guys who had also “planned” to be there and are now paying the price – I’m sure I wasn’t the only one of them in a lobby full of estrogen and teary eyes who was in deep trouble with their other, better looking half. Thanks for setting the bar a bit too high again, classic chick flick. Next time, I’m picking the movie.

Switching gears, I had a great time speaking with Sheila Marshman over the phone last week. Marshman will be speaking at the UN on March 1st, as I mentioned in today’s story. Before beginning work at The Evening Sun, the extent of my agricultural expertise covered only the basics; plants grow from the dirt and cows need to eat. But with each ag. related story I write, I’m learning more and more, and I’ve grown a great deal of respect for the agricultural market in the county. My perceptions of plants and cows have been made anew in the light of local agriculturists.

With talk of consolidation surfacing once again in today’s paper, I wonder about the future of Chenango County. 21 townships, (8 villages?), and one city in a county of 50,000 – seems like there should be some tightening of the belt someplace. I read a 30 sec. post that suggested we consolidate school districts because paying one superintendent would be more lucrative than paying for ten. There might be some truth to this, and if someone can figure out a financially sound way to do this without overcrowding classrooms and subjecting kids to a four-hour-one-way bus ride while still maintaining a reasonable student to teacher ratio in closely supervised educational environment, I will follow that someone like the Jews followed Moses in the desert for forty years – without question. Good luck with your idea, 30 seconds ranter.

A day for presidents, #113, (the infamous) MFN and more…

Monday, February 20th, 2012
Brian Golden

No school, no court, no City Hall, no County Office Building … hmm … it must be President’s Day! Which, alas, meant I had to dig (and dig … and dig) for today’s story, not a big surprise considering the vast majority of my sources have the day off. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but even I have to admit it’s more-than-a-little frustrating sitting here in the office while others are out and about enjoying this beautiful (if a tad chilly) February day.

Such is life, I suppose. And with little else to do, I guess I’ll get started on this week’s column once I finish this, my 113th Evening Sun blog, which puts me all alone in fourth place as our hometown daily’s most prolific blogger.

Not that anyone really cares … right, Jeff?

An interesting comment in today’s print edition of ‘30 Seconds’ (and by interesting I mean totally clueless) from the one and only Man from Norwich, who stated, “Enough of this nonsense on television already. She had one hit song and she was a drugged-out alcoholic,” to which my esteemed editor replied, “The one hit song part is a bit inaccurate, at least.”

I’m guessing (as is Ed., I’m sure) that the caller was referring to the late, great Whitney Houston. And while I certainly wasn’t her biggest fan, I’m quite sure she had more than one hit. That said, I too am getting tired of all the coverage. As I heard just the other day, millions die and no one cries … one dies and millions cry. Houston’s death is tragic, it’s true, yet her problems with the booze and the drugs were well documented and … I’m sorry to say … these things tend to happen when that is the case.

On a happier note … for you Wheel of Time fans out there, at least … a release date has (finally) been announced for the Robert Jordan- and Brandon Sanderson-penned “A Memory of Light,” which will wrap-up one of the greatest epic fantasy series of all time. I know I’m excited (as is my co-worker, Mr. Julian Kappel) for the conclusion of a story I first began reading back in 1999 or so, as are millions of other WOTers out there. Sanderson – who took over the series following Jordan’s death in 2007 – has done a fantastic job finishing what the master himself started with “The Eye of the World” in 1990 and deserves a serious pat on the back for a job well done.

With that, I think I’ll get started on that column I spoke of (I’m considering several topics even as I wrap-up this blog) and … once 4 o’clock rolls around … I’ll be doing my best to enjoy at least a little bit of that sunshine.

Let’s go to the movies again

Friday, February 17th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

After my last complaining rant about paying $30 for my wife and I to go to the movies (2 admissions, 1 large soda, 1 large popcorn) I specifically remember pledging that it would be a long time before returning – perhaps when pigs fly, hell freezes over or, the much less likely, when politicians agree on health reform. My resistance was mainly because it would take a long time to save up that kind of extra money again. Not to mention, it’s just not worth paying that much money to got to the movies. I usually get stuck near the front where my neck hurts by the end of the movie, no one around me chews with their mouth closed so I hear the rotten “smack-cruch-smack-crunch-smack-crunch” of 50 other people eating popcorn, and it’s too dark to ever see whatever it is that’s making the floor sticky.

But the wife seems to have enjoyed all of it.

Yes, not even a month after my last visit to the movie theater which left me with nothing in my wallet except a driver’s license, a fist full of IOUs and a few moths, my wife decided we should go again. Apparently, that was an easy decision for her to make – the more difficult decision will be what bill isn’t going to be paid on time this month.

“Fine, if we must go again, let’s pick a good movie. And by good, I mean something with a lot of explosions, or something with car chase or gun fight, or something that makes me rip the arms off my seat off in terror – you know, something worth seeing on the big screen. No? We aren’t going to see any of those? Well, how about a movie that we can agree on? A comedy? Adventure? No? Well… what should we see?”

Over the years, my wife and I have learned the process of compromise; We each have equal strength in the initial voting process when it comes to things like deciding which movie to see. And in the event of the all too common tie vote, we refer to a tie breaking re-vote, in which my wife happily assumes a two-thirds vote. So, given our movie dilemma, we “compromised” on seeing a romantic drama. Thank goodness for a compromising system that works for everyone, huh? Through the unwritten rule of democratic marriage, we voted to see “The Vow.”

“Well… that’ll be fun.”

Perch derbies, mall rats and bat attacks

Thursday, February 16th, 2012
Brian Golden

Well, it looks like colder temperatures will allow for the annual Chenango Lake Perch Derby to at last take place on Saturday, although I’m certainly not going to step foot on the ice (sorry, too cold for me). And I have to laugh at the people (including you, Frank) who seem to think the event would still go on if there was any doubt as to the safety of said ice’s thickness.

Then again, I seem to remember a story about a truck several years ago …

As for me, I have an even more dangerous undertaking in mind for the weekend, also known as a trip to the mall. Yes, the family and I have planned a Johnson City excursion for Saturday, one I’m sure will lead to chaos, unpredictable and childish behavior (not necessarily initiated by the children) and a spree of spending glee. Which is fine, really, because my trips to the mall are fairly rare. And considering there’s a Guitar Center just a hop, skip and/or jump away … well … I suppose I’ll be OK.

And now, my Weird and Wacky Occurrence of the Week …
Time: Approximately 6:45 a.m. Date: February 14, 2012. Place: Nearing the Price Chopper intersection located on State Highway 12, south of the city. Weird and Wacky Occurrence of the Week: An obviously disoriented bat making a dive at my driver’s side window (luckily for me it was rolled up) before pulling up short and swooping away.

Talk about creepy. Even worse was the fact that I couldn’t seem to dismiss an image of what could’ve occurred if the little bugger had actually made it into the car, a thought that gave me the creepy crawlies all the way to the State Police barracks.

Two days later and it’s still giving me the creeps.