Archive for April, 2013

Soundtrack of the newsroom… and other things.

Friday, April 26th, 2013
Ashley Babbitt

At the close of week three here in the newsroom, I have plenty that I could blog about. Can I make up my mind on a topic? Of course not.

It has been great working with Brian, Shawn and Kevin. The soundtrack of the morning hours is just the pitter-patter of fingers on keyboards, which is nice. Once the paper is finished, Brian can be identified by his whistling when he comes and goes, Kevin by his distinct laugh, and Shawn is super sneaky so I can only figure out it’s him coming through the door by default. In any case, it’s a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying things here.

On another note, I was reading about the Tribeca Film Festival and see that “The Kill Team” won best documentary. I haven’t checked it out yet, but it’s on my list. Reading that did remind me of another documentary I recently watched – “The Invisible War.” I highly recommend it to mature audiences, as it gets pretty descriptive regarding sexual abuse cases within the military, but definitely worth the watch – in a “this is absolutely horrible” kind of way. It’s on Netflix.

Well, I’ve mentioned the words “soundtrack” and “festival” which makes me eager for upcoming shows and festivals. What I wouldn’t give to be at the New Orleans Jazz Fest this weekend… one of these years I’ll make it happen. The Mountain Jam lineup is pretty solid, and I probably should’ve gotten tickets for that, but haven’t. It’d be nice to see Dispatch, Soulive, Michael Franti, and of course everyone else. The Cat Empire is touring soon, and I’ll probably go to their show in Philadelphia. I have yet to see them live, and they’re one of my favorites. I can’t talk about music and festivals without bringing up the Chenango Blues Fest, one of my favorite things about living in the area – terrific live music right here in Norwich.

Speaking of live, there’s live music tonight at The Blarney Stone, the Hop City Hellcats. Also, The Norwich Theater Company’s production of “How Green Was My Brownie” opens tonight at 7 p.m. at the Martin W. Kappel Theater. That’s something to check out too. It was really funny – but probably not appropriate for the younger folks – but if you’re looking for some laughs this weekend, I highly recommend it.

Well, here ends my ridiculous stream of consciousness-type blog.

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Beware of half-truths; you might get the wrong half

Friday, April 26th, 2013
Shawn Magrath

I find it funny that so many people complain about the supposedly high number of Chenango County SNAP recipient who take advantage of their benefits, yet so few people – none that I know of – have the numbers to back up that statement. True, I believe there are people who “abuse the system,” as one ’30 Seconds’ caller recently put it, just as I believe there are people who steal, speed, litter, plagiarize, jaywalk, or obscurely break any other number of laws. But how can one possibly say that “most” or “many” (or my favorite, “all”) welfare recipients abuse their privileges without having one bit of empirical data to support that argument? Seams pretty weak to me.

Then again, these types of arguments come from the very same people who believe county government calls all the shots in determining who receives federal supplemental assistance. It’s just further proof that people see what they choose to see. I guess ignorance truly is bliss.

But I digress… and step off my soapbox…

In something completely unrelated, legislators in New York City are considering what to do about the Times Square “entrepreneurs” who dress up as pop-culture characters to make a few bucks by posing for photos with tourists. The considerations come two weeks after a man dressed as Cookie Monster pushed a two-year-old boy because the boy’s parents didn’t foot a $2 tip for the photo op. Who would of thought costumed strangers working the streets of New York would be so unpredictable? Instances like this are exactly why I wouldn’t let Mario use my camera to take a picture of me and my wife during our last visit to the Big Apple. Never in my life do I want to file a police report for a stolen camera with a suspect description: obese Italian plumber, with blue overalls and oversized head — Grew three sizes larger after eating mushroom. Some circumstances are worth the extra effort to avoid.

B-G grad McGinnis playing in Arena Football League

Friday, April 26th, 2013
Patrick Newell

Bainbridge-Guilford graduate Willie McGinnis has reached the next level in his football career. Following his high school graduation, McGinnis was signed by the University of Rhode Island where he played four seasons and earned second-team all-league honors in the Colonial Athletic Association as a defensive lineman. McGinnis had his sights set on the NFL, but injured his knee a week before his pro day workout at URI.
Two seasons removed from his collegiate football career, McGinnis is playing football again on the professional level. No, not the NFL, but the Arena Football League. McGinnis was signed by the Pittsburgh Power, and played in his first game last week, a 64-33 loss to the Utah Blaze. According to the Rhode Island athletics site, 8,390 fans attended the game.
McGinnis told his collegiate alma mater’s website that he was fortunate to have a great support system at home, who watched him rehab his injury and work himself back into playing shape. “One person I am thankful for the most is my brother (Chris),” McGinnis said in the URI website article. “All of it allowed me to push myself beyond where I felt I could go. My understanding of success is that it’s a joint effort. No one person succeeds solely on their own accord, so to them, I say when I rise, we rise.”
The mechanics of Arena Football are similar to every level of football, but the dimensions of the field are about half the size of an NFL field, and teams align with eight players instead of 11. The speed of the game, too, is much faster with an emphasis on the passing game. “There are a number of rules changes that I am adjusting too,” McGinnis said in the article. “But when it comes down to it, it’s just football.”
McGinnis was a star player for B-G/Afton during his high school playing days, and was a two-time Evening Sun All-Star at linebacker. He has played football most of his life, and he said he is thankful to continue his football journey. “I couldn’t imagine myself not playing this game, and not going out on my own terms,” McGinnis said

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Sports Editor’s Playbook, April 21, 2013

Sunday, April 21st, 2013
Patrick Newell

Did anyone notice similarities in the Sherburne-Earlville baseball and softball linescores Wednesday? Rarely have I seen two game results so statistically symmetrical. Or, it was one of those unique coincidences that happen in sports way more than one thinks. And the only reason I am mentioning the coincidence is that I am a certified stats geek. The Elias Sports Bureau hires guys like me – times about 10.
If you missed the game results, here is what happened: Sherburne-Earlville’s two teams both built 3-0 leads with one-run inning and a two-run inning, and took 3-0 leads into the fifth. The boys gave up six runs in the bottom of the fifth and lost 6-3. The Marauders’ girls lost their three-run lead giving up all six runs in the sixth inning. They, too, lost 6-3. It’s unusual to have that similar of an outcome between any two teams I cover, much less two teams playing on the same day on adjacent fields. This is just another example among hundreds of why sports are so refreshing and unpredictable. On any given day in any game, you might witness something you’ve never seen before.

I haven’t targeted Norwich varsity softball in my blog, well…not too often. Thursday’s victory at Susquehanna Valley was a milestone I wish I saw. Of course, I had 17 other games to report on, and SV’s home site is a 75-minute drive on a good day. In 2011 and 2012, Norwich won exactly won Southern Tier Athletic Conference league game. Neither of those two victories compares to this one, especially considering the opposition. For most of my 18 seasons covering area sports, Susquehanna Valley softball has taken a spot at or near the top of our section winning multiple Section IV titles along the way. This year’s Sabers may not have the makings of a state title contender, but when has that mattered? Norwich has not beaten Sus Valley in at least 20 years. The Norwich team that ended the drought starts three and sometimes four freshman among the six infield spots. Norwich softball, long the doormat in STAC, is no longer anyone’s patsy. Just ask Sus Valley.

Friday’s sports edition paid tribute to George Echentile, one of this year’s Norwich Sports Hall of Fame inductees. Echentile was long retired before this generation of students were born, but for generations before that, he was as dignified and classy a teacher as there ever was at Norwich High School. He was one of my physical education teachers at NHS in the 1980s, and was, simply put, the finest teacher I ever had. That is no disrespect to the many good teachers I had in high school and college. Some people just set the bar incredibly high. He was named teacher of the year in Norwich multiple times, and in my opinion, they should have just renamed the award in his honor. They just don’t make ‘em like George Echentile anymore.

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What a week…

Friday, April 19th, 2013
Ashley Babbitt

What a week it has been. Sending positive energy and vibes to anyone in need.

The bombings in Boston on Monday have certainly shown that during times of crisis, we as a people can come together. It’s nice to see, yet unfortunate it takes a tragedy for it to surface. In no way do I want to discredit this empathy we are showing – it truly is wonderful – I guess it’s just a nice little fantasy in my head that people should show compassion and humanity to one another around the clock.

Hats off to those brave folks who have helped out throughout this situation in Boston, and those who are continuing to help out as more is unfolding as I write this. First responders, by-standers, the National Guard members, medical staff … anyone who has a helping hand in the care and safety of those afflicted gets a big thumbs up.

The explosion in West, Texas on Thursday certainly has had me concerned as well. I hadn’t heard about it until about 6:30 a.m. as I was heading out the door. My father lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and just before I closed the door to leave I heard on the TV, “Explosion in West Texas.” – I thought, “Oh no. Well, I’ll find out more soon, but at least it’s not near Dad.” Wrong. It turns out West is the name of the town, and is actually not too far – about an hour – from my father. He’s fine of course, but boy – what a misleading town name. The positivity and love mentioned above is no doubt directed toward all the folks down in Texas affected by this explosion as well.

Syria is also on my mind. There are way too many people hungry, without water, women and children being raped and beaten. Those who survive will have a long road ahead of them after experiencing such horror, that’s for sure. It is heartbreaking. I sincerely hope these individuals will receive the post-trauma counseling necessary to continue with life after such brutality. Things of this nature are – of course- a domestic issue as well, and I extend the same hopes of vitality to all who have endured – or are enduring – such situations.

My thoughts are with the thousands without shelter after the earthquake that rocked the Middle East on Tuesday. At least 35 people were killed and an estimated 150 injured in Pakistan, and one death has been reported in Iran. Pakistani soldiers are helping with the relief effort and have been distributing food, blankets and medicine. I hope those folks get taken care of soon.

I am thinking of our service men and women around the world. As the weather warms up, the attacks in Afghanistan will only increase. For those who have served, are currently serving, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – thank you.

Maybe you’ve been down because your beloved pet has passed away. Maybe you’re bummed because the only milk you have to put in your coffee expired far too long ago. Maybe you’re just down about the cloudy weather. Regardless – chin up. This world is filled with gentle, caring individuals – even though it may not seem like it all the time.

Shawn, thank you for watering the plants. It also served as a reminder for me to water the plant on my desk. Kevin, thanks for helping me fix the time on my computer. That whole seven varying times thing was throwing off my day, but now I’m good to go. You know, sometimes it’s just the little things.

I suppose to sum up what’s on my mind today, there is a lot going on in the world… there always is. Horrible things happen… they always will. I like to think the good outweigh the bad, the caring outshine the callous. It’s certainly not a perfect place, and it never will be, but healing thoughts to anyone feeling down and out.

Oh, cruel world

Friday, April 12th, 2013
Shawn Magrath

Hats off to the Chenango County Sheriff’s Department for their Sherburne drug bust (see Friday’s top story). As for those who claim it was a waste of time because marijuana possession is a petit crime, of course you’re entitled to your opinion and certainly welcome to challenge the law (which at times has been known to work for the best. “Separate but equal” comes immediately to mind). But perhaps – and this is just my own thought – calling your challengers “morons,” “cowards,” and “uneducated” isn’t the best battle tactic. I should also point out that no legitimate medical researcher has ever said weed “cures canceristic tumors,” as someone put it… assuming that “canceristic” means cancerous.

On a different topic, I’m not entirely sure what to think of this whole North Korea issue. While it wouldn’t be prudent to write off North Korea’s threats, it’s difficult not to considering their past missal tests have been so incredibly unsuccessful. Should they fire another, it’s impossible to predict how it would play out. Will they finally be successful? Or would it play out like a Benny Hill scene, with a nuclear rocket chasing Kim Jong Un (to the theme of Benny Hill, because it wouldn’t be as funny without it).

What a week! There’s no real explanation as to why, but people seemed despairingly negative these past few days… more so than usual. This week’s News – world, national and local – has been remarkably bleak, spinning people into a subsequent frenzy of grumbling and vexation. Guns, gas drilling, North Korea, school boards, drug busts, cause of death investigations (note, I didn’t say the “M” word, at least not yet…). None of these are new topics any means. But to me, it’s almost as if there has been more emphasis on them this week than there has been in a long time. People are vicious, I know, but it’s really beginning to hamper my spirit. A cold rainy Friday certainly doesn’t help. Oh, cruel world!

I’m the new kid

Friday, April 12th, 2013
Ashley Babbitt

Happy Friday, folks. I’m Ashley, the newest addition to the team of Evening Sun reporters. Today marks the end of my first week here, and I feel as though it’s a pretty neat fit for me. Brian, Kevin and Shawn are a great group of guys and they’ve been nothing but helpful and welcoming. Everyone else I’ve met here thus far has been wonderful and it’s just overall a nice atmosphere.

My cubicle is becoming slightly cozier by the day. I returned from New Berlin Wednesday to some flowers on my desk, and I have post-its all over. Other than that, it’s pretty plain, but I’m sure in a few weeks time it’ll have some more pizazz. I thought about drawing a fishbowl on paper, adding a goldfish (or maybe a beta) and hanging it in the corner. That should bring the place to life.

Yesterday was a pretty eventful day. I ended it by checking out the parent/child yoga event at the Oxford Library. It was really neat to see. All the parents and children were taking an adventure through the forest. They were turtles, bears, lions, snakes, warriors, the whole lot. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find myself a little spot in the corner and join in for a minute. I’ll definitely be looking into the adult yoga classes the Black Horse Yoga Studio has to offer.

Don’t let the cool, damp weather stop you from heading out to enjoy some of the events going on in the area this weekend. You have three chances to catch The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at the Norwich High School, which I think will be terrific. Saturday night the Koresh Dance Company is performing at the Council of the Arts and that should be awesome as well.

If there’s something going on, and you think I should know about it, send me an email at
Oh, you can follow me on twitter too – @evesunashley

Letter from the Editor 4.12.13

Friday, April 12th, 2013
Brian Golden

• Quite the week in news, particularly today’s top story and the estimated 100 pounds of marijuana (not to mention $36,000 in cash) confiscated by the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday. Needless to say, we were all rendered speechless here in the newsroom when we saw Kevin’s photos of Sheriff Cutting standing over the “goods,” so to speak. That, my friends … without a doubt … is an awful lot of marijuana, and yesterday’s raid was apparently one of the biggest busts of its kind, locally, according to several sources.

• Well, our latest addition to The Evening Sun’s staff of reporters seems to be settling in nicely. Ms. Ashley Biviano cruised rather painlessly through her first week here, submitting a healthy serving of copy and going a long way toward proving me right. When I ran into Ashley a couple of weeks ago, I immediately thought she might very well be our best bet in filling the vacant reporter position, and I’m just glad she seems to be enjoying the challenge. It’s not easy coming into the newsroom that first week and digging for stories, trust me, but at least Kevin and Shawn were on hand and willing to chip-in with a bit of advice when asked. As for me, I’m just glad we’re finally up to strength and I’m looking forward to seeing exactly what this team of ours is capable of.

• Moving on, anyone looking for something fun to do this weekend should seriously consider making their way down to the Norwich High School auditorium and taking in the NHS Musical Club’s production of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Show times are 7:30 p.m. both tonight and tomorrow, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. These kids (and a number of adults, as well) put an enormous amount of hard work and effort into making each and every NHS production a success and it’s beyond evident that there’s a lot of talent taking the stage this weekend. So let’s get out there and support what is always an unforgettable show, year in and year out.

• And I’m spent. I have yet to take a full day off since accepting the reins as Managing Editor here at Chenango County’s Hometown Daily (something that’s not going to change any time soon) and – while I’m certainly not complaining – come Friday I can honestly say I’m beat. Working on the weekend isn’t so bad, really, and it’s typically only for a couple of hours, but let’s face it, everyone needs a break every now and then. For me? For me that now begins … err … right now. See you all (not in the literal sense, of course) on Monday and have a safe and enjoyable weekend. I’m ready for a nap.

Letter from the Editor 4.8.13

Monday, April 8th, 2013
Brian Golden

• Here we are, week four as Managing Editor of The Evening Sun and no … I haven’t forgotten how to blog, if anyone happened to be wondering. What can I say? It’s been more than a little … hectic … the last couple of weeks (not that I’m complaining), and we’re all making adjustments here in the newsroom as we move forward.

• With that said, a big welcome to Ashley Biviano, the latest in a long line of Evening Sun cub reporters. Ashley spent her first day in the newsroom exploring her new cubicle (get used to it, you’ll be spending a lot of time there) and adjusting to the controlled chaos that is life at 29 Lackawanna Ave. Hopefully we haven’t scared her too badly with our antics and keep an eye out for her very first byline on tomorrow’s front page (always an inspirational moment for any incoming staff writer).

• Moving on, I printed a Letter to the Editor today that literally had me on the verge of tears as I read – and edited, of course – it, one describing the trials and tribulations of the recovering addict. A more honest and heartfelt letter … I’m simply at a loss for words. I think most people are aware of our area’s ongoing issues concerning heroin and other controlled substances, and I hope today’s letter was as eye-opening for you as it was for me. The writer, who wished to remain anonymous (something I would normally not allow), deserves a lot of credit for his courage and continued sobriety. If you haven’t read this, please take the time to do so, either in print or online at (I made the online version free for all, so you don’t even need a subscription … not that a subscription ever hurt anybody).

• And with that, I’m exiting the office for the day. Keep an eye out for future Letters from the Editor (aka blogs) penned by yours truly and we’ll see you all tomorrow.