Archive for February, 2013

Small talk and retirement dreams

Friday, February 22nd, 2013
Shawn Magrath

I’ve had enough winter. In a more perfect world, winter wouldn’t even exist after Christmas – just sunny 75 degree days from January through November. Then again, if not for changing weather, I wouldn’t have small talk.

It’s always a shame to see funding and participation stand in the way of a good community program. Unfortunately, that’s what happened with the Chenango County Big Brothers / Big Sisters program. Facing low participation and falling just short of requirements set by the national organization which can’t be met by the local Big Brothers / Big Sisters, The Place is closing the program after this week. For those who were actively involved with the program, I say kudos. I hope to see good work continue with the new mentoring service offered by the Liberty Partnership Program.

There’s a lot of back and forth lately about gun laws, but I think one of the most overlooked concerns has been the recent allegations of computer hacking. Over the last two decades, we’ve become a society dependent on online information, so it doesn’t take much imagination to consider the catastrophic possibilities of US business and military information being hacked. I myself have a lot (a lot) of personal information out there in cyber space. It’s time to go back to balancing the checkbook the old way, I guess, since the only safe computer anymore is one that’s turned off, unplugged and setting in the trunk of the car.

During the pope’s last week in his position, I can’t help but wonder what someone does when they’re no longer pope. I mean, it hasn’t happened in 600 years… I can’t imagine a pope’s retirement being the same as anyone else, with days spent playing golf, gardening, sorting junk mail from AARP, traveling in an RV or opening up his own small business. But as an employee of God, I can’t imagine the pension being too shabby.

Slow down!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Brian Golden

Quite the accident report in today’s paper, which comes as such a surprise considering it’s WINTER out there. Seriously, I don’t know what is wrong with drivers this year, but slow the heck down when it looks like it’s getting icy/snowy/slippery/etc. What’s worse, if you ask me, those idiots who like to ride your … err … tail when the roads are looking slick, obviously in a hurry to get where they’re going and upset that we – the intelligent, safe drivers – are taking our time. Here’s a hint … leave ten or fifteen minutes early, no matter where you may be headed, and do your best to keep the roads safe for all of us.

You’d think we’ve never seen snow or ice before, the way this year has panned out. Cripes.

Well, it certainly didn’t take long for my column today to ruffle some feathers, although I must say the name calling and accusations are certainly uncalled for. A column, for the last time, is an opinion piece, and I have yet to pen something so utterly damning that it required Jeff to censor me and not include it in Wednesday’s paper, including today’s column. And today’s column was, if I say so myself, completely unbiased. I continue to support every Americans’ Second Ammendment rights, yet it’s become obvious that something needs to be done in regards to firearms in this country. Canada, England, you name the country; they simply don’t have the problems we have when it comes to shootings.

Case closed.

And with that, the ever popular “Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds’ Post of the Week (thus far),” brought to us by the one and only Man from McDonough (and taken from the pages of Monday’s edition of The Evening Sun).
“I observed a person in Oxford buying soda with his EBT card. Then he went outside, dumped all the soda out of them, took them back, got the deposit back and bought what he really wanted. When are they going to clamp down on this?”

Well, Man from McDonough, I must admit this makes absolutely no sense at all. Unless the person in question (if this really happened) received and dumped … let’s see … more than ten cases or so of soda, they really didn’t make all that much money. How about some math? Ten cases of soda equals 240 cans, times five for the deposit, and you have $12 in cash. Wouldn’t they just be better off selling the soda to a friend or relative? Sorry, but it simply sounds like a whole lot of work simply to make a quick ten bucks … or five bucks … or even two bucks (still two cases of soda to be dumped). Then again, stranger things have happened (and do all the time) here in Chenango County.

Editor’s Notebook: 2/18/13

Monday, February 18th, 2013
Jeff Genung
• Cold enough for ya? Considering my car wouldn’t start this morning, and it’s a Monday, and it’s Presidents’ Day, and we seem to be the only ones in the free world working today … yes, yes it’s cold enough.
• Note to self: Great to have a garage. Better to have a garage with an actual door. Put that on the To Do list.
• While my trusty newsroom staff knows full well that I loathe the phrase “raising awareness” (we’re aware already, we’re aware!), that’s pretty much the only way to describe Saturday’s event held for Jennifer Ramsaran, the New Berlin wife and mother who’s been missing since December. It wasn’t a search (someone tried to organize a civilian search, but later called it off) and it certainly wasn’t a memorial (God willing, she’s not dead), so Saturday’s “Shining Hope” event at St. Bart’s in Norwich was just that – an awareness raiser. That’s really all you can do at this point – keep circulating her picture, keep the word out there. Someone, somewhere, knows what happened to this poor woman. For the sake of her family, and the community, let’s all pray for a resolution soon.
• Published a picture on Facebook today of the weekend crowd supporting Norwich in its failed basketball title bid against Maine-Endwell. Is it just me, or does anyone else find those giant cut-out heads disconcerting?
• So it’s a national “holiday,” my car won’t start, I’m working on getting a cold, and they killed Matthew off on “Downton Abbey” last night. Sounds like I should call it a day.

• Cold enough for ya? Considering my car wouldn’t start this morning, and it’s a Monday, and it’s Presidents’ Day, and we seem to be the only ones in the free world working today … yes, yes it’s cold enough.

• Note to self: Great to have a garage. Better to have a garage with an actual door. Put that on the To Do list.

• While my trusty newsroom staff knows full well that I loathe the phrase “raising awareness” (we’re aware already, we’re aware!), that’s pretty much the only way to describe Saturday’s event held for Jennifer Ramsaran, the New Berlin wife and mother who’s been missing since December. It wasn’t a search (someone tried to organize a civilian search, but later called it off) and it certainly wasn’t a memorial (God willing, she’s not dead), so Saturday’s “Shining Hope” event at St. Bart’s in Norwich was just that – an awareness raiser. That’s really all you can do at this point – keep circulating her picture, keep the word out there. Someone, somewhere, knows what happened to this poor woman. For the sake of her family, and the community, let’s all pray for a resolution soon.

• Published a picture on Facebook today of the weekend crowd supporting Norwich in its failed basketball title bid against Maine-Endwell. Is it just me, or does anyone else find those giant cut-out heads disconcerting?

• So it’s a national “holiday,” my car won’t start, I’m working on getting a cold, and they killed Matthew off on “Downton Abbey” last night. Sounds like I should call it a day.

Norwich meets M-E in STAC final Sunday

Saturday, February 16th, 2013
Patrick Newell

The way Norwich coach Tom Collier sees it, all of the presure is on Maine-Endwell.
Collier’s Purple Tornado play the Spartans tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Binghamton University’s Events Center for the STAC title. Norwich is 19 years removed from its last conference championship, while M-E is in the midst of a nine-year dearth of league titles.
“They’re the number one team in STAC this year. That is a given, and they’ve proven it all season,” Collier said of his opponent. It’s the big guy versus the little guy. We’re playing with house money as far as I’m concerned. I hope our guys come out and play loose, and this is a great opportunity for us to prepare for sectionals.”
These two clubs know one another quite well. Collier said the two teams met three times in offseason AAU or spring tourneys, and in-season, M-E authored a 57-45 win over Norwich at the Stop DWI tournament this past December.
Norwich was far from full health at the time, and was also missing starting point guard Michael Sutton. Sutton, on a recent tear, is the Tornado’s second leading scorer at around 10 points a game, while top scorer, Kyle Edwards, is putting up just over 11 points a tilt.
Maine-Endwell is similarly balanced with its scoring, Junior Kyle Gallagher scores 13 a game and shooting guard Alex Wisniewski chips in with just under 13.
Ticking off the pros and cons of each club, Collier identified a number of similarities: Work ethic, tough defense, and maximum effort. The two clubs are near mirror images with the stark difference in the larger image cast by the Spartans.
“They have three guys 6-foot-5 or more who start, and that’s three guys taller than anyone we have,” Collier said. “We’re playing on a bigger court, so I think it gives their big guys more space. By the same token, we have more space to run our dribble-drive offense.
“It ought to be a fun, and we’re expecting a very good game.”
Neither team has lost since the calendar flipped six weeks ago. One of those perfect marks will suffer a blemish, say around 3:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Follow me on Twitter for in-game updates @evesunpat

You can do it!

Thursday, February 14th, 2013
Brian Golden

Somehow, someway … I will find the energy to make it through this weekend, I just know it. And it’s not like I’m complaining – any chance to play the guitar and I’m on it – particularly with tonight’s Dinosaur BBQ gig, Saturday afternoon’s Coleman’s gig (the bar’s “Winter Warmer,” should be a great time), a potential gig in Ithaca Saturday evening (if the whole thing didn’t fall through, no word yet), and Sunday’s Songs for Casey memorial all on the horizon. Granted, there’s a good chance my voice will be completely shot by the time it’s all said and done, but that’s the price you pay for all this fame and fortune.

Except I’m not famous … nor have I amassed a fortune of any kind … hmm … something to consider.

Sunday’s performance will be a bittersweet one, obviously, in memory of a good friend, Casey Decker. We lost Casey in a car accident just two days after Christmas, and all of us who knew and loved her are still trying to make sense of it all. My heart goes out to the entire Decker family, who are also good friends, and if you happen to see Kobie, Scottie or Bill out and about, it never hurts to let them know your prayers and thoughts remain with them through this unbearable time. We’re all here for you, and I can’t wait to see you all on Sunday.

And now, another edition of “Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds’ Post of the Day,” brought to us by Woman from Norwich …
“30 second picnic in the park? Please, NO! That much stupidity all in one place could cause a change in the earth’s magnetic field, tilting it off it’s axis and causing the end of the world as we know it.”

Woman from Norwich, just so you know, I did not find your post to be ridiculous at all, I simply had to post it as it made me laugh. And I needed a good laugh. With that, adios, my friends. I will see you all on the other side of the weekend, albeit with no voice and a sore hand from all that guitar playing.

Norwich’s Sutton playing at a high level

Saturday, February 9th, 2013
Patrick Newell

I was pleased to come up with an extra story for Thursday, Feb, 7 on the Norwich basketball team. The story’s substance came from an abundance of extra quotes that head coach Tom Collier gave me following the Tornado’s win over Susquehanna Valley on Feb. 5. I didn’t have a place for the quotes in the game write-up, so my thought was to include them as tidbits in an upcoming blog. After composing 600 words, I thought, “this is too long for a single blog item.” So I included the feature as an extra story in our print edition.
The substance and the theme of the story were fine, but post-printing, I realized I made a glaring omission: I left out a trio of junior basketball players who played on last year’s sectional championship club.
I had tunnel vision, and in reviewing the returning players, I focused solely on the three returning seniors: Kyle Edwards, Grant Brightman, and Danny Carson. I left out juniors Michael Sutton, Michael D’Abbraccio, and Storm Cook. Sutton, as a sophomore, started more than half of Norwich’s games a season ago, and served as the primary ballhandler on a pretty darn good team. Cook and D’Abbraccio were key reserves at forward, and occupy the same roles this year.
Sutton, though, became a full-time starter midway through last year, and is in his second year as a starter. How could I forget him?
As a contributing player a season ago, he deferred to seniors Seth Thomsen and Dennis Oralls along with Edwards. That trio combined for 43 points a game last year, or around 70 percent of Norwich’s scoring. Sutton tossed in 6.3 points per game, and I estimated he would likely double that average this year as a second-year player.
Through the first 14 games this year had reached double figures scoring just three times, and he missed three games during the Christmas break after sustaining a nasty ankle sprain. Michael’s dad, Tom, showed me a picture of the ankle, and I swear it was swollen to the size of a ripe Florida orange.
“I think he was on the cusp of taking that next step forward when he got hurt,” Collier said. “When he came back, he still wasn’t himself. But if you think about it, we haven’t lost a game with Michael Sutton in the lineup.”
A veteran of many ankle sprains, my personal experience told me it would be a few weeks before Sutton would again be on solid footing. I forgot that Sutton had youth on his side, and he was back to practice within two weeks. As Collier said, Sutton was not himself in his return, and it would be another three weeks before Sutton started to score in a manner I had expected.
A week from this past Friday, Sutton had 13 points against Chenango Forks, he followed that with a career-high 25 points against previously-unbeaten Sus Valley, and then added 17 points against Windsor on Thursday. In those three games he shot a combined 70 percent from the field (21-for-30), and that includes six three-pointers on 12 attempts. His field percentage inside the three-point arc? A remarkable 83.3 percent. Mind you, not every shot attempt is a layup for Sutton, and he’s doing a laudable job in every other facet of the game. He had zero turnovers against Sus Valley, and he played nearly every minute. Over the past three games, he has 13 assists and four turnovers, while picking up nearly three steals a game.
“‘Sutty’ is kind of that guy who goes unnoticed,” Collier said. “He’s not flashy, but he’s smooth. He really has a complete game. He’s an excellent defender, and he can cover anyone. He’s a great rebounder and he gets his teammates involved. Now he’s starting to score.”
Collier said that Sutton has beating eating everyone’s lunch during Norwich’s practice, and now he’s dominating in games. His performance in recent games proves that point. “No one has been able to stop him,” Collier said. “He came out in the Susquehanna Valley game and hit a couple of shots. His confidence just rose.”
For the first year and a half of his varsity career, Sutton remained content to get his teammates involved and not look for his own scoring. He’s still finding his teammates, but he’s also become a weapon on offense. With so many other viable scoring options on Norwich, Sutton has made Norwich an even more difficult team to defend as we head into the homestretch of the season. “Other than the sectional championship game against Chenango Valley last year, the game against Susquehanna Valley was probably the second biggest game of Michael’s career,” Collier said. “He was the best player on the court that night, and it wasn’t even close.”

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

You would think the difference was clear

Friday, February 8th, 2013
Shawn Magrath

I’ve heard five different weather reports today, each one saying how much snow will be dumped on us tonight – and funny enough, not one of them agree on the numbers. But if what’s been reported on the Weather Channel all day is any indication of what we’re in for, get your sled dogs and parkas ready for tomorrow, it’s going to be the storm of the century… again. Seems like we’ve been getting a lot those lately, huh?

Weather aside, if there’s just one thing I like about my job, it’s that I’m never quite sure what I’ll be doing or we’re I’ll end up on any given day. Today, I found myself on two ambulance calls with the EMS crew at the Norwich Fire Department while shadowing them for next week’s “Punching the Clock” series. Of course, there’s a lot that can be said of what those guys do day in and day out, but I won’t go into it just yet. I will say, however, I’m not cut out for the job – at least not after one day.

Lately, it has come to my attention that people – a lot of people – don’t quite understand the difference between an opinion piece and a news article. So to make it as simple as possible, if the piece ever has the word “I,” “me,” or “my” in it, there’s a really, really good chance that it’s opinion, nothing more (you might also look for the word “Viewpoints” printed in large type at the top of the page should you actually be holding the newspaper, or “Opinion” if you’re on the website. It’s also helpful to scan the written piece for what could possibly be (gasp) opinions). I know it sounds too straight forward, that the difference is clear and that no one could possibly get the two confused – news story vs. opinion piece – but you would be surprised.

Hey, this is worth sharing. A family in California has filed a lawsuit against Disneyland because they say the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland demonstrated racist behavior toward their children. A father claims his two kids were ignored, even shaken away by the person in the rabbit suit when they tried to grab the rabbits hand and hug it. No word yet from the rabbit, but he looked awfully happy about it.
What is the world coming to when we sue for our kids not being touched by strangers?

Making ‘Progress’

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
Kevin Doonan

Last Friday marked the conclusion of this year’s Evening Sun edition of Progress Chenango. As has proudly been articulated by many of those involved in the process, Progress Chenango is among the best of its publication class in the state. This was my first year being involved in the project, and I found it to be an interesting experience. In the months leading up to Progress, the other affiliates of the newsroom spoke of Progress in hushed tones reminiscent Harry Potter’s cronies’ reluctance to say Lord Voldemort’s name out loud. In fact I had no clear idea of what Progress even was until it came time to sit down and discuss the journalistic endeavor as a conglomerate of writers, editor, and sales team. To this day I am not sure if the others really just weren’t trying to mess with me a bit to put the fear of Progress in me.

In truth I don’t really find Progress to be as overwhelming as I was led to believe it would be. Just as in school, as long as I stayed ahead of the deadline and didn’t procrastinate to a debilitating degree, I managed to avoid the sleepless nights and stressful crunching I had heard so much about. Not to say I didn’t have to clock in more time at the office than normal, but not to the degree where it felt as though Progress was eating me alive. Now that the dust has settled, I can look at the endeavour with pride, but also with an appreciation for how much more I have left to learn.  

Sports Editor’s Playbook – girls’ basketball edition

Monday, February 4th, 2013
Patrick Newell

For the time being, a girls’ basketball team is the highest scoring team in Chenango County. Bainbridge-Guilford’s boys held that spot until a 45-point outing against Windsor last weekend. Sherburne-Earlville’s girls are about one-tenth of a point below the 60 points per game mark after beating Clinton Monday, and now own the top spot. The Marauders play a pressure defense that generates easy hoops, they have a 6-foot-2 center, Lilly Berg, who rebounds well on both ends of the floor, and the Marauders average about five three-pointers per game. Savannah Irwin, Jordan Van Althuis, and Mattie Dowdall all have over 20 three-pointers this season, and S-E is the only girls team that I cover that has as many as “two” girls with at least 15 threes.

Unadilla Valley seniors Amanda Off and Jordan Anderson have gone through their bad times. The four-year varsity basketball players were on teams that went a combined 8-28 their first two seasons. The losing shifted — big time — the other way ever since. Coming off a 15-6 season in which it reached the Section IV Class C semifinals, the UV is 13-1 this year, and recently completed a perfect 11-0 run through Midstate Athletic Conference play. Off and Anderson are each about to cross the 900-point marks for their careers, and are enjoying the spoils of their long climb up the ladder. UV hosts Bainbridge-Guilford Thursday in the league semifinals with the winner meeting Unatego or Harpursville the following weekend.

Norwich girls’ basketball coach, Josh Bennett, thinks he has a player deserving of all-state recognition. In last Saturday’s win over Chenango Forks, the Tornado held Forks’ Mikala Transue to four points. Transue, Bennett pointed out, was an all-state pick last year. Bennett agreed that Transue is an excellent player, but felt she was outplayed by Norwich junior guard Jennifer Borfitz. “Transue had her jersey retired this year and is the first girl in her program to score over 1,000 points,” Bennett said. “Jenni has played great for us the last two seasons, and she didn’t even get a sniff at (all-state),” the NHS coach said. Perhaps that omission will be rectified at the close of this season.

I was way off with my Super Bowl prediction, but I kind of saw it coming. Just like the Giants’ run last year, the Ravens had that “team of destiny” look.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 2/4/13

Monday, February 4th, 2013
Jeff Genung
• Been a while, I know. Back into the thick of things, what with the Progress finale and Melissa deCordova’s retirement and all. Time to get back to the “regular” newspaper grind.
• So I forgot a “Continued on …” again. Haven’t done it for years and years, and now I’ve done it twice in the last six months! Grrr. I’m going to blame the aforementioned Progress stress, again. I have to get as much mileage out of that excuse as I can. Seriously, my apologies for those who were frustrated that Brian Golden’s county court roundup did not, indeed, continue on Page 3 as promised. Mistakes happen, but still … I made that story free on evesun.com and it will run in its entirety in Tuesday’s print edition. And I’ll never do it again, I swear!
• Had a wonderful Progress celebration/retirement luncheon at Park Place on Friday, in which we said farewell for the departing Melissa deCordova, who has left The Evening Sun after nine years reporting on county government, and more recently, natural gas development. Joining the current ES crew were alumni Tyler Murphy and Melissa Stagnaro – always good to see old friends, even on a bittersweet occasion. We’ll miss you terribly, MDC!
• Before Friday’s lunch (which happily turned into Friday dinner, I might add), those of us in the Lackawanna Ave. office of The Evening Sun took part in another yearly tradition – hauling out a year’s worth of garbage. Yes, we have a regular cleaning guy, but still stuff tends to pile up. My philosophy? If you haven’t touched it in the last year, get rid of it. Happy to say that you can now see the shelves in the closet, and the ghosts of Macintoshes Past have finally fled the storage room. It’s always nice to start off the new year (and ours always starts post-Progress) with a clean slate.
• Heard there was a football game last night. Lights went out, Beyonce was bootylicious. Didn’t watch it. All I needed to know was on ‘30 Seconds’ all day long …

• Been a while, I know. Back into the thick of things, what with the Progress finale and Melissa deCordova’s retirement and all. Time to get back to the “regular” newspaper grind.

• So I forgot a “Continued on …” again. Haven’t done it for years and years, and now I’ve done it twice in the last six months! Grrr. I’m going to blame the aforementioned Progress stress, again. I have to get as much mileage out of that excuse as I can. Seriously, my apologies for those who were frustrated that Brian Golden’s county court roundup did not, indeed, continue on Page 3 as promised. Mistakes happen, but still … I made that story free on evesun.com and it will run in its entirety in Tuesday’s print edition. And I’ll never do it again, I swear!

• Had a wonderful Progress celebration/retirement luncheon at Park Place on Friday, in which we said farewell for the departing Melissa deCordova, who has left The Evening Sun after nine years reporting on county government, and more recently, natural gas development. Joining the current ES crew were alumni Tyler Murphy and Melissa Stagnaro – always good to see old friends, even on a bittersweet occasion. We’ll miss you terribly, MDC!

• Before Friday’s lunch (which happily turned into Friday dinner, I might add), those of us in the Lackawanna Ave. office of The Evening Sun took part in another yearly tradition – hauling out a year’s worth of garbage. Yes, we have a regular cleaning guy, but still stuff tends to pile up. My philosophy? If you haven’t touched it in the last year, get rid of it. Happy to say that you can now see the shelves in the closet, and the ghosts of Macintoshes Past have finally fled the storage room. It’s always nice to start off the new year (and ours always starts post-Progress) with a clean slate.

• Heard there was a football game last night. Lights went out, Beyonce was bootylicious. Didn’t watch it. All I needed to know was on ‘30 Seconds’ all day long …