Archive for October, 2012

Editor’s Notebook: The Hurricane Sandy Edition

Monday, October 29th, 2012
Jeff Genung
• Sooo … what’s new? How about that weather?
• The big news – the only news – is Hurricane Sandy, of course, and we here at The Evening Sun are right on top of it. Maybe not in that stand-outside-in-the-middle-of-it-on-camera-to-prove-you’re-really-there TV weatherman kind of way, but still. Brian Golden, our intrepid police/fire/natural disaster beat reporter, will be on the job all night, literally – he’s camping out in the ES newsroom here on Lackawanna Avenue, promising to bring you online (here, Facebook and Twitter) updates as the storm progresses. He’ll be braving the winds back and forth between our office and the emergency operations center on East Main to keep you updated.
• That will last as long as the power does, of course. After that, we’re pretty much at a loss. We fully plan on publishing a paper Tuesday (single-section to avoid timing issues), but without power, that obviously won’t be possible. There may come a time tomorrow when, if power is not restored, we will have to give up on Tuesday’s print edition entirely, and focus our efforts on web updates and on putting out a regular edition Wednesday. If that happens, it’ll be the first time in anyone’s memory (and possibly, ever) that we’ve failed to put out a print edition. Since 1891. Here’s hoping we don’t break that streak tomorrow.
• Been bombarded with closing notices all afternoon, everything from Planned Parenthood to GHS. Aside from schools (and the county itself), we won’t be able to keep up with all those closings individually. Bottom line: Use your head. Roads are closed officially between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. tomorrow, and God only knows what will happen after that. When in doubt, call. Chances are, if it’s nasty out, it’s closed.
• OK, that’s enough for me … I’m gonna head home, and hopefully that’s where you are, too! I’ll be keeping abreast of things electronically, and helping Brian give you updates as long as we can tonight. Stay safe, Chenango!
• And before I sign off … My heartfelt gratitude and well wishes to the men and women who will be out serving the populace in emergency services tonight. You are truly the real heroes of Chenango County!

• Sooo … what’s new? How about that weather?

• The big news – the only news – is Hurricane Sandy, of course, and we here at The Evening Sun are right on top of it. Maybe not in that stand-outside-in-the-middle-of-it-on-camera-to-prove-you’re-really-there TV weatherman kind of way, but still. Brian Golden, our intrepid police/fire/natural disaster beat reporter, will be on the job all night, literally – he’s camping out in the ES newsroom here on Lackawanna Avenue, promising to bring you online (here, Facebook and Twitter) updates as the storm progresses. He’ll be braving the winds back and forth between our office and the emergency operations center on East Main to keep you updated.

• That will last as long as the power does, of course. After that, we’re pretty much at a loss. We fully plan on publishing a paper Tuesday (single-section to avoid timing issues), but without power, that obviously won’t be possible. There may come a time tomorrow when, if power is not restored, we will have to give up on Tuesday’s print edition entirely, and focus our efforts on web updates and on putting out a regular edition Wednesday. If that happens, it’ll be the first time in anyone’s memory (and possibly, ever) that we’ve failed to put out a print edition. Since 1891. Here’s hoping we don’t break that streak tomorrow.

• Been bombarded with closing notices all afternoon, everything from Planned Parenthood to GHS. Aside from schools (and the county itself), we won’t be able to keep up with all those closings individually. Bottom line: Use your head. Roads are closed officially between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. tomorrow, and God only knows what will happen after that. When in doubt, call. Chances are, if it’s nasty out, it’s closed.

• OK, that’s enough for me … I’m gonna head home, and hopefully that’s where you are, too! I’ll be keeping abreast of things electronically, and helping Brian give you updates as long as we can tonight. Stay safe, Chenango!

• And before I sign off … My heartfelt gratitude and well wishes to the men and women who will be out serving the populace in emergency services tonight. You are truly the real heroes of Chenango County!

Get your arm floaties

Friday, October 26th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

I’ll be forthright: I did some stupid things when I first got my drivers license. I loaded too many people in the back seat of my 1995 Subaru Impreza, jumped the train tracks (not the ones in town), and got it it stuck on the front lawn of the school (in my defense, it wasn’t intentional. Not to mention, I had the last front-wheel drive Subaru on the face of the earth). Even so, I never did anything so dumb as “test drive” a car through a moving body of water. That’s exactly what happened earlier this week, when someone allegedly drove a car from a Norwich dealership through Canasawacta Creek; a prompt reminder that the dull-whited can really be a thing of supernatural wonderment. So I offer a tip of the hat to you, potential car buyer from Norwich, for making the rest of us consider the notion that no matter what level of stupid leaks from between our ears, there’s always someone who can outdo it.

Keeping on the subject of local news, this Saturday has shaped up to be a busy one in the city. Congressman Richard Hanna will be campaigning at the Norwich Fire Department at 12:30. It’s the final meet and great session for people living in the area before heading to the polls in November. Lest we forget, the YMCA Halloween Parade is also Saturday. It steps off at 2 p.m., followed immediately by the “Rally to Protect Our Towns in East Park.” It looks like I’ll be spending a good part of my day with camera in hand.

Brace yourself, make sure your flashlight works and that your arm floaties are fully inflated. The “storm of the century,” dubbed “Frankenstorm” by the people who get paid to think up a name, is filing its way toward Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. As of now, forecasters aren’t sure enough to say when, or if, the storm makes landfall, but all agree: Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Riding the storm out

Friday, October 26th, 2012
Brian Golden

It’s looking more and more like we’ve got one heck of a storm headed our way, one that experts are calling a “super storm” and “The Perfect Storm 2.0,” in reference to the 1991 monster that walloped the east coast. And while I’m not a doomsday kind of guy, I’ll be honest, this potentially dangerous storm has got me a little worried. Regardless, as Emergency Management Officer A. Jones said, let’s make sure and prepare for the worst while we hope for the best. In other words, batten down the hatches and get below deck, we may be in for one crazy ride.

Moving on, I’ll be spending a good portion of my Friday morning over at the Chenango County Courthouse for the Wlasiuk sentencing. Don’t ask me why, but I actually lost sleep over this last night, perhaps because it was such an ordeal, spending hours upon hours covering his trial and subsequent conviction. Now, at the end, I find myself wondering if this case will finally be closed. Will he once appeal the jury’s verdict? Probably. Will that appeal be successful as the last two were? Time will only tell. Me? I’m just glad it’s over, to tell you the truth. Well, almost over, I have one more story to write come Monday and then it’s on to the aforementioned storm of the century.

The fun never stops.

Last but not least, my latest installment of Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds’ Post of Week, brought to us by the one and only Man from Oxford.
“Obama won’t release his transcripts for any amount of money because they prove he was a foreign exchange student.”

What to say? I find it both absurd and disheartening that there remains such a large number of people who still … still … believe our president was born overseas, is a radical Muslim intent on the destruction of America and everything it stands for, and is quite possibly the Anti-Christ. You people are – simply put – disturbing. Face the facts, people, Obama is a Christian, born in Hawaii, and he deserves – if nothing else – a little respect. Don’t agree with his policies? Fine, that’s your right. But to continue to spread these obvious lies is not only ignorant, but unpatriotic.

In other news, rock singer extraordinaire (not) Meatloaf has announced his endorsement of presidential candidate Mitt Romney. One more reason I probably won’t be voting Republican come Nov. 6. Sorry, but it had to be said.

And with that, have a safe weekend, all, I’m headed to the ‘Cuse for some much-needed hang-time with the band, not to mention a performance at the Westcott Theater opening for my good buddies, Dark Hollow. And I’m dressing up as a hippie-cowboy, a.k.a. Dickey Betts of Allman Bros. fame. Does it get any better than that? To bad I don’t have a Les Paul.

Remembering my introduction to running

Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Patrick Newell

About 12 1/2 years ago, in early 2000, I decided to renounce my sedentary home and work lifestyle, and get back in shape. At first I tried the stationary bike, then I moved on to an elliptical cross trainer, and finally, my albatross, running.
All through high school, except my freshman year, I cagily avoided the dreaded “one-mile” run during our track and field unit in gym class. From the time I graduated from high school until my early 30s, I could probably count on my hands the number of times I went for a run – just for exercise. For me, running was only useful as a means to chase a ball, and nothing else.
It took an eye-opening moment to change my view on exercise.
My third child, Arielle, was due in about two months, and I resolved to drop some weight. I was aghast the last time I stepped on a doctor’s scale, and I kept pushing the sliding weight farther to the right than ever before. When it comes to weighing yourself, right is definitely wrong.
Back in 2000, my sister Kate was the fitness director at the Norwich YMCA, and she gave me the nickel tour of the Nautilus center. In over 20 years as a Y member, I had never set foot in the hallowed Nautilus room. That was another level up on the membership purchase, and my lone interest at the Y, to that point, was honing my marginal basketball skills.
Kate took me through the nautilus lifting stations, and the rest was up to me and my motivation. After a week on the bike, I decided I needed something else. I didn’t have music to listen to at that point (I really could have used Internet radio), so my workout was me, my machine, and my meandering thoughts. Getting me to stay in one spot for more than 20 minutes at a time is difficult enough, especially when I am willingly doling out sweat in buckets. Sweaty shirts? What the heck were those?
Sitting on a bike was boring, and the elliptical kept my interest for only 20 minutes at a time. I sure as heck wasn’t getting on the Nordic skiing track, so my logical move was my bane for years.
I remember clear as day my first run outdoors. I had pre-measured a one-mile loop from my house on Francis Ave., and made my trek mid-evening in February. With the temperature approximately in the high 20s, I equipped myself with sweatpants, two undershirts, and a sweatshirt. Not familiar with how much the body heats up during a run, I made darn sure I wasn’t freezing my hind end.
That one mile was the longest 5,280 feet I ever covered on my own. Despite running at a musical pace best defined as “largo,” I was starched by run’s end. I think I coughed up every bit of mucus my body had produced the last 10 years, then I wheezed and hacked myself into the belief that running was actually beneficial to my health.
Just like anything, the more you practice, the better you get. I gradually added tenths of miles to my runs. Literally, I progressed from 1.0, to 1.2, to 1.4 miles, and eventually up to nearly two miles. Did I ever get the running bug? Heck no! I still would rather chase a ball, but with age, you have to make some concessions. Within a few years, I was running five-kilometer races, and to my surprise, I didn’t embarrass myself.
I recount my foray into running as a segue into our selections this week as Athlete of the Week, Norwich juniors Robert Jeffrey and Matt Murray.
As a some-time runner – and competitively a few times – I have great admiration for those who attain times I can only dream about. Matt and Robert are standouts on the NHS cross country team, and neither ran distance races competitively as recently as two years ago. Matt has long been known as an outstanding sprinter and middle distance runner, and Robert was still on the soccer team at the start of fall practices this August. Matt has a leg up on Robert – by one year – and the two are setting a brisk pace that should take them to the state cross country meet next month.
As talented as these young men are, I can safely assume neither one has worn three layers of clothes while running or nearly died after the first mile.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Two sides to the same coin

Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

With stories it’s not so much what they are about/ but how they are told that defines them. Here are two tweets from the Associated Press and CNN about the same story:

AP: “Barrage of Gaza rockets draws Israeli air strikes; 1 Palestinian militant killed.”

cnnbrk: “Israeli airstrikes into Gaza have killed 3 Palestinians, after rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.”

Same story, but two very different ways of telling it. It’s all about presentation. The CNN tweet makes it seem as though Israel blindly lashed out at the Palestinian community in an act of vengeance. The AP tweet, on the other hand, identifies only one person being killed, apparently omitting the existence of the other two, and identifies the fallen as a “militant,” or in other words a potential combatant. Between the two tweets, it can be determined: the Israeli air strikes were in response to rocket attacks from Gaza, three people were killed, and only one seems to have been a combatant. Goes to show, the way a story is told can be just as crucial as the facts themselves.

Zombies Ahead

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Zombies ahead! The warning was issued by an electronic road sign in Greece, N.Y. after an alteration was made by hackers. Officials weren’t amused and called it an act of vandalism, but personally I have a hard time imagining what harm it could have done. There wasn’t even any physical alteration or damage inflicted on the sign itself and it could not have been too much of a challenge to change it back. Then again, maybe a few poor souls saw the sign, panicked and immediately engaged their fight or flight mode, putting their cars into reverse, and gunning it to the nearest airport. How would that conversation have gone?

“Sir/madam what is the reason for your visit?”

“Zombies.”

Up for debate …

Monday, October 22nd, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Many in the media have called tonight’s presidential debate crucial. I cannot help be feel though that the emphasis on the word “crucial” is more a result of broadcasters trying to sell the importance of the debate. Like any pitch, it needs to have an edge to it and so the use of words that excite are mandatory.

I cannot help but feel that, although according to many preliminary polls this presidental race is a close one, most voters have already made up their minds. I mean who plans to walk into the voting booth in two weeks and make a snap decision based on who performed better in the presidential debate? Maybe a lot of people. In the end the presidency has a dual nature of extreme exposure and extreme obscurity. What really makes a good president? Is it the ability to be outwardly diplomatic and charismatic or the strength to surround yourself with potent advisors and experts and all matters presidential?

In the end, maybe a president is little more than just a puppet who gives an administration its face and maybe a good president is just someone with good puppeteers. Though the notion may sound cynical, I assure you it is far from it. Ultimate power should never be in the hands of one person and although being called a puppet may be seen as derogatory, in this instance it’s rather democratic ( “of, relating to, or supporting democracy or its principles” [definition courtesy of the New Oxford American Dictionary], not to be confused with the Democratic party).

Sitting on the fence

Friday, October 19th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

Ah, the battle of red states vs. blue states wages on. Recent polls show both presidential candidates are nearly in a dead heat (with “mixed messages,” of course, according the AP) as each man campaign harder to reach that all so critical undecided voter.

I admit, I have in mind at this point who I would like to vote for but until election day, I’m sure I can be easily persuaded. In real perspective, it might be true that the most important event that determines the outcome of this election hasn’t happened yet, so I think it’s good to keep an open mind up until the moment I pull the lever. Some call it “sitting on the fence.” No, I won’t argue with that. It’s difficult to argue the truth. Besides, I like being on the fence; I can get a good view of both sides. Unfortunately, what I see, I’m not too particularly thrilled of. On one side, there’s a man who’s controversial healthcare plan forces citizens to purchase healthcare, even if said citizens could only dream of affording it; and on the other side, there’s President Obama… Boom! Just a fresh reminder that the Governor’s Massachusetts healthcare law served as a template used in the development of national healthcare reform (yes, I’m still undecided).

On a brighter note, a headline for the Huffington Post reads: “Mars Rover scoops up another big surprise.” I haven’t read the entire article yet, but I’m really hoping they found my spare car key. Losing things drives me crazy.

Also leading headlines in the field of science and astronomy, an alien planet was found close to Earth… at least what astronomers consider “close to earth” – only 25 trillion miles away. Daredevil Felix “Fearless Felix” Baumgartner is already planning to jump from the star back to Earth, breaking the light barrier before parachuting safely to the grounds of the New Mexico Desert.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012

Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Patrick Newell

* In the glow of his team’s 42-0 victory over Roscoe/Downsville last Saturday, UV head coach Daryl Decker looked across the field and saw slumping heads and shoulders as the Blue Devils met with their coach. Decker walked over to R/D head coach Fred Ahart and asked if he could say a few words to the Blue Devils. Decker had seen that look before – on the UV sidelines – three years ago. “I told them to not hang their heads. The team they played against was exactly in their shoes three years ago,” Decker said. “We didn’t finish games and got blown out 60-0. This group (of UV players) has stuck together, listened to their coaches, and they’ve become a decent team. I told them they have the potential to be a decent team. They have to stick it out through the rough times and listen to their coaches.” Decker also remembered the feeling when you’re on the short end of a blowout. He told his team that once they met their team goal for the day, they were done (scoring) and would switch it up. “My kids understood that because they know how it feels to get blown out,” Decker said. “We didn’t set out to embarrass them.” More from Decker…All season he has played the numbers game, and on game day he is never sure if he’ll have enough players to field a regulation team – 16 players. “I know I harp on it week after week, but every day I am counting guys in practice,” Decker said. “We’ve had practices where we only had 13 kids show up. You can’t do much in practice with 13 guys, and you certainly can play games. It’s a constant battle. There are probably eight guys walking around the school who used to play and could have helped us. We think by winning games and the potential of a winning season, that will help build the program and get more kids out.”

* Oxford assistant football coach Norm Kaufman is finishing up another season on the sidelines serving under head coach Ray Dayton. It’s a sure betg that Kaufman will transition to Oneonta State’s women’s basketball team this winter where he has served as an assistant coach the past few years. Kaufman was a head football coach at Norwich in the early 1970s, and has worked as an assistant almost continuously the last 40 years. I knew Kaufman had been around for at least 40 years, but I was surprised to learn that this year is actually his 51st year of coaching. Before he came to Norwich, he was an assistant coach in the New York City area for many years. “I love it,” Kaufman recently said at an Oxford football game. “It’s like a hobby to me.” Dayton had lofty praise for his venerable assistant who has probably forgotten more football than this writer will ever know. “I love the guy,” Dayton said. “He has great ideas, he loves football, and he loves working with the kids. He has no vested interest in any of the kids, but I can tell you he would do almost anything for them. Norm really loves the game, and he understands the life lessons you can gain from playing the game. He has been a great assistant, and he is even a better guy.”

* For the second time in as many weeks, we recognize a Greene soccer player as athlete of the week. Paige Wilcox has set the soccer pitch on fire since her ascension to the varsity level two years ago. For her career, she is averaging almost two goals a game, and through last week had 103 career goals. She is three shy of tying Greene’s all-time school mark, set last year by Alex Driscoll. With at least one game left this year and full season left to play, the junior striker may threaten the 150-goal mark. Without verifying statistics, I can safely conclude Wilcox will be Chenango County’s all-time leading goal scorer.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

It’s in the bag

Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Wednesday, two Binghamton residents were arrested in Pennsylvania for the possession of an estimated $125,000 worth of heroin hidden in the speaker box of their car. What I would like to know is where that number came from? How did the police quantify the dollar worth of the 4,963 bags of heroin they found? Did they measure it based on heroin’s exchange rate on the open market? I think not. What drug dealer was willing to go to the police and be like, “I want to be your drug dealer consultant, in case you just so happened to be wondering when I sell 4,963 bags of heroin, my net profit is an estimated $120,000.” Did the police ask themselves what would 4,963 be worth to me? And what kind of measurement is a “bag” anyway? Is it part of the Standard System of Metric System? Did every bag have the same amount of heroin in it? I mean that is the kind of information that the police no doubt would have to share with the drug dealer consultant in order to get an accurate estimate.

That raises yet another question. Does heroin go bad, will it spoil? After those 4,963 bags of heroin have been sitting in the evidence room for a couple of months, will they start to stink up the police station?

Either way a lot of heroin junkies are going to be left wanting. But maybe they will just use the $120,000 that’s burning a hole in their pockets and take a ride down to wherever in Pennsylvania people are bagging heroin.