Archive for November, 2012

Thank you, it’s exactly what I never wanted

Friday, November 30th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

‘Tis the season for this usually procrastinating reporter to consider Christmas shopping – something I rarely look forward to. Every year, I fear the traditional gift exchange for two reasons: 1) I never have the “perfect” gift in mind for anyone, friend or family (or spouse, for that matter) and 2) I’m afraid of what I’m going to get. There’s never much – if anything – on my wish list, so when someone asks me what I want for Christmas, the response is always the same: nothing. Unfortunately, at least with my family, “nothing” actually means “something, but I’m going to let you surprise me.” Don’t get me wrong, I really, really appreciate the thought behind each and every gift. But even the most humble gift recipient occasionally thinks “What am I going to do with this?”

Be it the ugly holiday sweater, senseless knickknack, book that you aren’t going to read, or all around pointless thingamajig, I think most people are familiar with the concept of getting an unwanted Christmas gift. I’m no stranger to it either. Again, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the thought behind that eight inch ceramic figurine of a clown going fishing, or that book, How to Avoid Huge Ships (the 2nd edition), or even the concern for the safety of my lunch with “banana guard,” the plastic case that ensures my individual banana won’t get squished or squashed by the time I get to work. I love the thought behind any gift… but “banana guard”? Bananas already come in their own natural case, right?

The worst part is, no one can just get rid of these gifts. At least, no one with a heart. So this… stuff… sits on the coffee table, or the bookshelf, or in the kitchen drawer, or on top of the mantle for all to enjoy (maybe that fishing clown is exactly what’s needed to bring a little more life to the living room). There they stay, every day, taking up room and serving as a reminder that there’s another Christmas next year… and another round of gifts you’re grateful for, really, but would much rather do without.

On a cheerier note, the annual Evening Sun “Progress Chenango” edition is right around the corner, which means reporters will be in high gear for the next month or so. We’ll be scheduling interviews and writing a series of stories that highlight what the past year has brought to local businesses and non-profits, and the ambitions those organizations have for the coming year. Sure, it’s a heavier workload for the staff here but the end product is always something to be admired.

Progress … parades … and ‘libtards’

Friday, November 30th, 2012
Brian Golden

Ah, yes … it’s Progress Chenango time once again here in The Evening Sun newsroom. A time met with trepidation by the most seasoned of veteran reporters. A time when tears will fall and one’s patience and resolve will be sorely tested. A time to reflect on Chenango County’s many successes, challenges and plans for the future. Yes, my friends, it’s that time again. Progress has arrived.

And no, believe it or not, I’m not complaining. Because as our esteemed editor likes to remind my fellow reporters and I, Progress is truly the greatest thing we do year in and year out here at The Evening Sun. It may be time consuming – and even frustrating at times – but the end result is something we can all be proud of. This will be my third experience with Progress Chenango (my three year anniversary here at The Evening Sun actually falls on Friday next week) and – as always – it’s equal parts excitement and nervousness. Let’s face it, Progress is a lot of work for all involved. I will, however, go on record stating it’s all worthwhile once the finished product hits the street.

In other news, Jeff, Kevin, Shawn and myself had a great time designing and building this year’s Parade of Lights’ float last weekend, and an even better time braving the snow-filled streets of downtown Norwich participating in said parade. A big round of applause for all those who work so hard to put this wonderful event together year after year, and a special thanks to North Norwich Motors and Chenango Welding Supply for loaning us the use of a truck, trailer and generator. We couldn’t have pulled it off without you guys and your willingness to donate to the cause every year is greatly appreciated.

With that said, it’s now, once again … time for the “Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds’ Post of the Week,” brought to us by … Man from Sherburne.
“What is a ‘libtard’?”

Well, Man from Sherburne, you must be new to ‘30 Seconds,’ so – with that said – welcome aboard! I say new to The Evening Sun’s reader reaction column because if you don’t know what a ‘libtard’ is, you obviously haven’t been here before. As I understand it, a ‘libtard’ is anyone who supports women’s rights, education, safe and responsible use of our natural resources and believes in climate change; as well as one who supports same sex marriage, the de-criminalization of marijuana and fair and equal pay for all Americans, regardless of sex, religious belief (or lack thereof), age or race.

Me? I’m proud of my ‘libtardliness,’ personally. I call it common sense.

Editor’s Notebook: 11/26/12

Monday, November 26th, 2012
Jeff Genung
• A “Christmas to Remember” alright!! The 18th annual Saturday-after-Thanksgiving parade in downtown Norwich was certainly one for the books. While I’ve taken part in each and every one of those parades (costumed character, sign-bearer, balloon-wrangler, judge and float-rider), I’m sure that the Parade of 2012 will always stand out in my memory … as the year it snowed like a %&^@#$!
• OK, so we were spoiled a bit by last year’s balmy 60-plus degree temperatures, but what a difference a day makes! Heck, what a difference 24 hours makes – especially in upstate New York! You can bet The Evening Sun crew was cursing Mother Nature’s sudden change in temperament from one day to the next as we toiled to construct this year’s “Delivering Christmas” float on Saturday, particularly because we barely even needed to wear jackets on Friday! While the first measurable snowfall was a whopper for those who marched (or rode) in Saturday’s parade, it must have been perfectly magical for those watching it – especially the little ones. “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute,” Auntie Mame was fond of saying, and boy did we get it. This is the stuff memories are made of, folks – can’t complain about that a bit.
• There are so many people, businesses and organizations to thank for helping us put together this parade year after year that my frost-bitten fingers would fall the rest of the way off if I were to type them all here, but suffice it to say that we at The Evening Sun and Pennysaver are eternally grateful for the support we get from the Chenango County community in making the Parade of Lights happen every year. Again, it’s a time-honored tradition that makes memories of a lifetime for young and old alike, and we’re thrilled to be part of it. Congratulations to our own Mike McCormack and his crew of volunteers for pulling this off yet again.
• I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate my own Evening Sun crew here, too – Brian Golden, Shawn Magrath, Kevin Doonan and I spent the greater part of Saturday duct-taping that “Delivering Christmas” float together (and freezing our collective buns off), and were rewarded with a 4th place finish from the judges in our category. Hold your applause – Brian wants a plaque!

• A “Christmas to Remember” alright!! The 18th annual Saturday-after-Thanksgiving parade in downtown Norwich was certainly one for the books. While I’ve taken part in each and every one of those parades (costumed character, sign-bearer, balloon-wrangler, judge and float-rider), I’m sure that the Parade of 2012 will always stand out in my memory … as the year it snowed like a %&^@#$!

• OK, so we were spoiled a bit by last year’s balmy 60-plus degree temperatures, but what a difference a day makes! Heck, what a difference 24 hours makes – especially in upstate New York! You can bet The Evening Sun crew was cursing Mother Nature’s sudden change in temperament from one day to the next as we toiled to construct this year’s “Delivering Christmas” float on Saturday, particularly because we barely even needed to wear jackets on Friday! While the first measurable snowfall was a whopper for those who marched (or rode) in Saturday’s parade, it must have been perfectly magical for those watching it – especially the little ones. “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute,” Auntie Mame was fond of saying, and boy did we get it. This is the stuff memories are made of, folks – can’t complain about that a bit.

• There are so many people, businesses and organizations to thank for helping us put together this parade year after year that my frost-bitten fingers would fall the rest of the way off if I were to type them all here, but suffice it to say that we at The Evening Sun and Pennysaver are eternally grateful for the support we get from the Chenango County community in making the Parade of Lights happen every year. Again, it’s a time-honored tradition that makes memories of a lifetime for young and old alike, and we’re thrilled to be part of it. Congratulations to our own Mike McCormack and his crew of volunteers for pulling this off yet again.

• I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate my own Evening Sun crew here, too – Brian Golden, Shawn Magrath, Kevin Doonan and I spent the greater part of Saturday duct-taping that “Delivering Christmas” float together (and freezing our collective buns off), and were rewarded with a 4th place finish from the judges in our category. Hold your applause – Brian wants a plaque!

Finished off

Monday, November 26th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

A few weeks ago I wrote a “thumbs up” for the seemingly endemic practice submersible shark punching. While I find stories about people escaping shark run-ins by punching the gilled monstrosities in the face harrowing and amusing, I have recently heard of a much more brutal tactic of dealing with sharks which I greatly disapprove of.

Shark fin soup is a delicacy beloved by the Chinese elite, with a pound of shark-fin selling anywhere up to $700. Recent growth of Chinese living standards has further increased the demand for the delicacy, giving willing fishermen the opportunity to line their pockets. Spurred on by the chance to make a quick buck, fishermen have been fervently hunting sharks, but while shark-fins are worth a lot, the sharks themselves are not. The fishermen have therefore been slicing the fins off living sharks and throwing them back into the sea, without even having the courtesy of putting them out of their misery.

Without its fin, a shark can not maneuvre through the water, and the de-finned sharks die slow deaths as they helplessly sink to the bottom of the sea. In many ways shark de-finning is even more despicable than the somewhat similar practice of rhino de-horning. While cruel and inhuman, cutting the valued horn off of rhinos at very least does not turn the rhino into a quadriplegic. Such contemptible and greed-driven actions represent one of the most shameful aspects of our species.

Now enters the holiday season

Friday, November 23rd, 2012
Shawn Magrath

Two to four inches of snow by Saturday? That’s almost twice as much as we had all last winter.

I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was as good as mine. Good food, a great time with family, and unlike millions of gung-ho Christmas shoppers, I avoided all Black Friday (and pre-Black Friday) sales. It’s remarkable that for some people, Black Friday is their Superbowl, complete with a carefully thought-out strategic game plan of what stores – and what sections of those stores – should be hit-up first, were to go next, who should carry what, who should hold a spot in line and who does the brunt work of pushing other shoppers out of the way. I’d much rather wait until the dust settles to do my holiday shopping. No savings are worth that amount of insanity.

This weekend is the annual holiday favorite, the Parade of Lights. The parade steps off at 6:15 Saturday night and makes its way north on Broad Street before finishing at the parking lot of the Howard Johnson Hotel. On behalf of my esteemed colleagues at The Evening Sun, I say we’re pretty pumped up for the annual spectacle. It’s a great way to kick-off the holiday season. Keep an eye out for The Evening Sun float this year, complete with… pyrotechnics? No, probably not. But whatever we come up with, I’m sure it will be good, or at least on a trailer with lights (there’s a good start).

Here’s some stirring news for space lovers. NASA announced earlier this week that the Mars rover Curiosity has unearthed something on the Red Planet that will be “for the history books,” but scientists aren’t ready to say what it is quite yet. In fact, they said they won’t give away the big surprise until December. Among other things, possible finding include: water, evidence of water erosion, evidence of life (of course), a Twinkie still in the wrapper, unprocessed Florida ballots, my spare car keys, and another Kardashian. Something to keep an eye on, I guess.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012

Friday, November 23rd, 2012
Patrick Newell

* For some if not most of the senior football players in Section IV, the Ernie Davis Football Classic is the last opportunity to don full pads and helmet in a competitive game. Chenango County had its fair share of representatives, as noted in our previous blog entry. One of those players, Dan Treadwell of Greene, turned in a standout performance, and was subsequently named the game’s most valuable defensive player. Playing for the East team, Treadwell had three interceptions in his club’s 21-6 victory Wednesday at Union-Endicott High School. Treadwell also appears on today’s sports pages as one of our two-dozen Chenango County all-stars. Treadwell had his best season as a running back, but for three years running, he has led the Trojans in interceptions. He had 15 picks over the past three seasons including a team-high five this season. Greene head varsity football coach Tim Paske said that Treadwell’s 15 career interceptions are the most of any Greene player in his decade-plus stint coaching varsity and junior football.

* The move to Class C this season paid off for Greene’s field hockey team. Always a Class C school in size, the Trojans, for over 20 years, have always played “up” in the Class B and A ranks, and the championship results – six state titles, and numerous finals and state semifinals appearances – prove that the Trojans were not in over their head. At no point had Greene embarrassed itself in any loss – at least in my 17 years at the newspaper – but head coach Sue Carlin felt her team deserved the opportunity to play with like-sized schools. From the first stroke of playoff competition, the Trojans were head and shoulders over the competition. The closest game in six wins was 4-0, and the Trojans won those half-dozen games by a combined score of 30-1. The championship victory over Southhampton was a mismatch, and the lopsided score provoked some thoughts (for me at least). What would have happened if Greene decided to stay in Class A. Or, what if it dropped to Class B instead of C? Carlin didn’t address that possibility in her post-championship comments, but after a quarterfinals win over Cazenovia two weekends ago, did offer some insight. “I think if you look at the top teams (in Class A, B, and C), you won’t see much difference,” Carlin said. Playing the hypothetical scenarios, it is definitely plausible to conclude that Greene would have been among the favorites to win in Class A and Class B as well. Sachem East repeated as Class A state champion this year, and Lakeland captured the Class B state title. Greene fans surely remember last year’s heart-breaking penalty strokes loss to Sachem East a season ago in the state semifinals. Last year’s game was as evenly matched as it gets, and there is no reason to doubt another potential barnburner. Lakeland, in winning its state title, narrowly escaped with a 1-0 victory over Maine-Endwell in the semifinals. An avid field hockey and Section IV official told me that M-E had the better of the offensive play in that game, but failed to capitalize. The Spartans gave Greene its most difficult time this season, but still lost a pair of games by shutout. The inference, based on a common opponent, is that the Trojans would again be more than competitive in a clash with Lakeland. All the hypotheticals aside, this Greene team may or may not rank among the school’s best all-time. Carlin said you really cannot compare season to season, but one thing is certain: No Greene state champion has won a championship in so dominant a fashion.

We don’t cover Pop Warner football the way we cover high school sports since it is a private athletics organization — not unlike Little League. Still, we receive reliable game reports, and the Norwich Cyclones have been diligent with their record-keeping, while also doing a fantastic job of teaching young kids the fundamentals of football. Tomorrow, one of those Cyclones teams, the unbeaten C squad, has an opportunity to claim a championship as it plays New City in the Empire Classic finals. The game is at 11 a.m. at Sauquoit Valley High School in Sauquoit. It’s a relatively easy drive — no more than an hour — so if you’re free, get out your GPS or go online for directions and make the hour drive to support our local kids. Best of luck to the C Cyclones.

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Trains, deer and Twinkies

Friday, November 16th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

It looks like the revitalization of the railroad in Chenango County is a strong possibility after all. As much as I had wanted to see trains running the rails again, I admit, I never thought it could (or would) actually happen. But now that the Chenango IDA is one step closer to bringing that idea to fruition and have secured funds to make the needed repairs, I take it back. It does leave me with some questions though: Why, if the company doesn’t have to foot the bill for repairs to its line, does the NYS&W Railroad still want to detach themselves from it? Will the railroad be viable if its operational? Admittedly, the Utica Main Line that runs through the county could carry huge economic benefits, but will it? I want to see the railroad running as much as anyone else but at the same time, I would hate to see money thrown into a black hole.

Earlier this week, the front of my car nearly met its fate after a close-call with a deer standing in the middle of Rt. 12, leaving me with a newfound fear of night driving and a permanently indented steering wheel from my death grip. As a result, I’ve put out a bounty on the deer that was too dumb to move out of the way. Description: Roughly 5′ tall; brown; no antlers; four legs; covered in fur; and black; soulless eyes. Good luck.

And a moment for silence for the long-relished Twinkie. This week, Hostess, maker of the Twinkie (and Wonder Bread) went belly up, blaming its failure on a workers strike and a new demanding contract. Twinkies now join the ranks of Squeeze-It juice bottles, the Chipwich, and Surge soft drink (the Mountain Dew alternative). So we bid a final farewell to the snack everyone loved… and nobody ate.

Death by Twinkie

Friday, November 16th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

All hell will break loose, once the denizens of America with superbly spherical torsos, wade out of their couches, and waddle after whoever is held responsible for the impending disruption in Twinkies production. Friday, Hostess Brands, famous for its sponsorship of The Howdy Doody Show, implored a bankruptcy court to let them fold, citing an inability to survive a bakers’ strike currently inflicting the company.

Without the precious Twinkie, Americans will be forced to subsist on la cucaracha shish kabobs, in the post-December 21st apocalyptic world. Thursday night will witness the last shipment of Hostess products and if that doesn’t spell doom … I don’t know what does. A warning to the meek and innocent, do your grocery shopping Wednesday, because the Friday morning news will no doubt be overloaded with stampede related deaths, as Twinkies, Devil Dogs, Ding Dongs, Sno Balls, Ho Hos, Suzy Q’s, Dolly Madison Zingers, Drake’s Ring Dings, and Wonder Bread fly off convenience store shelves … for the last time.

The Twinkie has led an illustrious life since its inception in 1930, when baker James Dewar got the idea of stuffing sponge cake with cream. Among the Twinkie’s long list of exploits is the coining of the term “Twinkie defense” as a mocking description of a weak legal defense. The term was coined during the 1979 murder trial of San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone. Defendant Dan White’s lawyer said the accused did it because he was suffering from a dietary-induced depression, exemplified by White’s massive Twinkie splurges. The argument actually worked and White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead of premeditated murder.

And for anyone foolish enough to think the Twinkie is not important, consider the following: In 1999, along with a piece of the Berlin Wall, Ray Charles’ sunglasses, a clip of Neil Armstrong trolling on the moon, and a photo of Rosa Parks (just to name a few), the Twinkie was approved for inclusion in the Millenium Time Capsule (though later it was taken out).

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012

Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Patrick Newell

* Wednesday’s sports section featured a story on the 50th anniversary of the Clyde Cole Wrestling Tournament. The narrative was mostly informational, but in the process of gathering information, Terry Stark, passed on some history of the tournament that I was unable to fit into the article. Stark is an Oxford Rotarian, and is the organization’s lead organizer in its co-sponsorship of the tourney. The tourney is named for Oxford’s wrestling coach in the 1930s and 1940s. Under Cole’s tutelage, Oxford wrestling was well regarded throughout New York. For a variety of reasons, Oxford’s athletics department dropped wrestling in 1947. For years, talk of restoring the wrestling program was bandied about, but the sport did not return until 1962. During the summer of ‘62, a 36-foot by 36-foot wrestling mat was purchased, and at the end of the fall sports season, a call was put out to any boys interested in joining the wrestling team. A total of 23 wrestlers came out for wrestling under head coach and Oxford AD, Al Doyle. Doyle was assisted by Don Hackett and Clyde Cole disciple, Edwin Winner. Oxford wrestling was on its way back.
The following year, the idea of a holiday wrestling tournament was born. It would begin a long tradition of early-season wrestling that features Chenango County teams and invited schools from around New York State. As was stated in Wednesday’s story, over 7,000 wrestlers have competed in the tourney over the previous 49 incarnations. From that group, dozens of sectional champions have been crowned, nearly 50 New York State champions, and three NCAA Division One champions including Oxford’s own, J.P. O’Connor.
Wrestling regained its rightful place in the Oxford sports program a half century ago, and its signature tournament is now the second oldest continuous running high school wrestling tournament in New York.

* As is usual, the last fall team standing this time of year is the Greene field hockey team. At 17-0 this season, the Trojans have outscored the opposition by a combined 80-3. That includes a 4-0 shellacking last weekend of two-time defending Class C state champion Cazenovia to reach the state semifinals a fifth straight year. Since the 2009 season, Greene’s only losses have come in penalty stroke shootouts, a skills competition equivalent to hockey’s penalty shots or soccer’s penalty kicks. The last time Greene lost in regulation or overtime? The 2008 state semifinals to eventual state champion Ward-Melville. Four players, all seniors, have been constants since the 2009 state title: Jahna Driscoll, Emily Conroe, Colleen Dietrich, and Emma Anderson. For Conroe, it is actually her fifth year of varsity service.  Conroe and Anderson are among the team’s scoring leaders behind Driscoll, who leads the team in goals for the third straight year. Driscoll has 22 goals and 17 assists this year, and for her career has 90 goals and 38 assists. We don’t have Greene’s career scoring records at our disposal, but presumably, she must be among the all-time leaders. The Trojans will play Section II champion Greenwich Saturday morning at Cicero-North Syracuse. Look for a preview of that game in Friday’s Evening Sun.

* A couple notes on former Chenango County athletes who are doing well. First, G-MU graduate Tonya Barnes, who scored over 1,000 points during her basketball career with the Raiders. A sophomore for Delhi Tech’s women’s team, Barnes had 16 points, three steals, four rebounds, and three assists as the Broncos evened their record at 3-3 with a 61-43 over Broome Community College earlier this week. Barnes’ high school teamate, Bri Lambert had a fine all-around floor game scoring six points to go with six steals, five assists, and five rebounds. The Delhi roster has a strong Chenango County flavor with Bainbridge-Guilford graduate Shania Vandermark and Sherburne-Earlville grad Cassie Beaver also on the roster…Remember Andy Gates? Gates played soccer and basketball for Oxford around a decade ago. Gates has paid it forward and is imparting the lessons he learned from Oxford’s coaches as the head varsity soccer coach for Walton. Gates was recognized for his coaching this past season sharing Midstate Athletic Conference coach of the year honors with Greene head coach Rick Tallman.

* Seven area seniors were selected to play in the Ernie Davis Football Classic next week. It is my no means a sure thing to earn a spot on the roster, and coaches typically nominate multiple players for the team with the hope of one or two earning spots. Expected to play in the contest are Jake Mazzarella, Bainbridge-Guilford; Dan Treadwell and Trevor Flohr, Greene; Grant Brightman and Kyle Edwards, Norwich; Paul Wonka, Oxford; and Kody Homann, Unadilla Valley.

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Editor’s Notebook: 11/12/12

Monday, November 12th, 2012
Jeff Genung
• The Superbowl for reporters, Election Night, has come and long since gone … and I’m just now able to see the top of my desk (I speak metaphorically, of course). Amidst all the armchair quarterbacking going on since, on both the local and national levels, I am eternally grateful once again that we were given the choice – on the bench, in Congress, in the White House – as to who we want to represent our interests.
• That said, I just now chucked my dog-eared copy of “The Judicial Campaign Ethics Handbook,” that lively tome that suggested how McBride, Revoir and DiStefano should have (and in most cases did) comport themselves over the last nine months or so. I’ll not be missing that sitting in my inbox. I could probably write a book, or at least a chapter, about what went on in the local political arena (and in this newsroom) over the course of this hard-fought campaign, and maybe I will, someday. To say the least – and that’s all I can muster right now – it was an interesting ride.
• Just when I thought ‘30 Seconds’ would continue to be nothing but Obama/Romney/Scooters/Aliens/Fracking for the foreseeable future, a fight breaks out at Norwich High School, and unfortunately a student is hospitalized with severe injuries. Of course, all of a sudden those aforementioned armchair quarterbacks are experts on student discipline and behavioral psychology – but I’m guessing there are so many sides to this story that no one will ever know what really happened. All we know is the sad, sad result. Hopefully, parents, teachers, students and administrators alike can use the aftermath of this event to construct a positive outcome – one of acceptance, tolerance, civility and understanding. No one ever wins the blame game, folks.
• On a lighter note, had an awesome time at the Chocolate Ball at the Canasawacta Country Club Saturday night! The biennial gala is a fundraiser for the Chenango Arts Council, a cause that many of you know is near and dear to my heart. Hats off to the organizers (and decorators) of this fantastic event – all accounts say it was a record-breaker in attendance and fundraising for this worthy cause.  And to anyone who might have been offended when I said, “You look like a drinker …” as I was selling raffle tickets for the “Bucket o’ Booze,” well … remember it was for charity!

• The Superbowl for reporters, Election Night, has come and long since gone … and I’m just now able to see the top of my desk (I speak metaphorically, of course). Amidst all the armchair quarterbacking going on since, on both the local and national levels, I am eternally grateful once again that we were given the choice – on the bench, in Congress, in the White House – as to who we want to represent our interests.

• That said, I just now chucked my dog-eared copy of “The Judicial Campaign Ethics Handbook,” that lively tome that suggested how McBride, Revoir and DiStefano should have (and in most cases did) comport themselves over the last nine months or so. I’ll not be missing that sitting in my inbox. I could probably write a book, or at least a chapter, about what went on in the local political arena (and in this newsroom) over the course of this hard-fought campaign, and maybe I will, someday. To say the least – and that’s all I can muster right now – it was an interesting ride.

• Just when I thought ‘30 Seconds’ would continue to be nothing but Obama/Romney/Scooters/Aliens/Fracking for the foreseeable future, a fight breaks out at Norwich High School, and unfortunately a student is hospitalized with severe injuries. Of course, all of a sudden those aforementioned armchair quarterbacks are experts on student discipline and behavioral psychology – but I’m guessing there are so many sides to this story that no one will ever know what really happened. All we know is the sad, sad result. Hopefully, parents, teachers, students and administrators alike can use the aftermath of this event to construct a positive outcome – one of acceptance, tolerance, civility and understanding. No one ever wins the blame game, folks.

• On a lighter note, had an awesome time at the Chocolate Ball at the Canasawacta Country Club Saturday night! The biennial gala is a fundraiser for the Chenango Arts Council, a cause that many of you know is near and dear to my heart. Hats off to the organizers (and decorators) of this fantastic event – all accounts say it was a record-breaker in attendance and fundraising for this worthy cause.  And to anyone who might have been offended when I said, “You look like a drinker …” as I was selling raffle tickets for the “Bucket o’ Booze,” well … remember it was for charity!