Archive for October, 2013

Elections, New Hampshire, nail polish and cookies

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Ashley Babbitt

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a month since I’ve taken over the editor gig here at The Evening Sun. What an awesome month it’s been. Shawn deserves balloons or coffee for all his stellar work. (I vote coffee because we’re running low and I forgot to get more k-cups this afternoon). For the first three weeks it was just Shawn and I handling the news-y happenings throughout the county, and Pat – as always – continues to hold down the sports section like a champ. We welcomed a new reporter, Matt, almost two weeks ago now, and things are working out well. Soon we’ll be up to staff and I’m super excited about that.
I took over at just the right time for elections to be rolling around. This means I have 7,749 “Letters to the Editor.” Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I have a bunch. A few have actually interested me. Some even address me as a person, and those are my favorite. The others … well, I read them and print them.
To be honest, I don’t care in the slightest the election outcome of these highly contested towns. Being removed from those locations is to my benefit. UVAC this, New Berlin Ambulance Service that … Fracking is horrible, fracking would benefit all … yadda yadda yadda. If you want to vote on Tuesday, head out and vote. If you don’t, fine by me. I’ll still read your opinions on ‘30 Seconds’ and keep mine to myself. Those are conversations to be kept in the confines of the newsroom during staff meetings. For now.
For the first Monday since my second week at The Evening Sun, I will not have an opinion piece ready to roll on Monday. Due to all of the “Letters to the Editor” that should run either Tuesday or before, I have decided to switch some things around.
Look at me – being all friendly and facilitating to all the folks who have something they’d like to get out there before the masses flock to the polls.
That just reminded me of the last time I voted. Polls were open until 9 p.m. I showed up at 8:58 p.m., on purpose, and was told I was too late. Flashed my phone and reminded them I had two minutes. They couldn’t find me on the list, and asked me four times if I had my first name correct. …I was fairly certain I did, but three different individuals insisted my name must be Josephine.
“Nope, I’m Ashley. But I did always think Josephine was a cool name. I had a great aunt Josephine I never got to meet.”At any rate, since I was “in line” before nine, they had to let me vote, once they made a call to Albany and had me fill out some change of address form even though it hasn’t changed since I moved back from Buffalo.I went in there, voted “no” to the school budget, and was out of there in seven seconds.But I digress – you folks are excited about elections and there are some “hot button” issues, I suppose. So I’ll let you have your space to share your views.
After all, you put up with my antics week after week.
Fear not, though, I’ll have something ready to go one of the others days next week.
I’m peeling out Friday for a much needed weekend in New Hampshire and I am more than excited. Weekends in NH make my head and my heart happy, and it’s nice to breathe different air, sit in different chairs, and surround myself with some fantastic folks.
I guarantee the event I am attending will provide me with weeks worth of content to write about. There’s even a “Ladies in the Media” panel, which should prove to be fun and informative.
The drive is pretty fantastic too. Not much beats solo dance parties while cruising along scenic routes through New Hampshire in Autumn.
In non-work related news … my sister is about to have her baby. Hopefully. She was due a week ago today. I’m looking forward to being “off the wall Aunt Ashley,” and can’t wait to help the little kiddo learn about some obscure things. The niece and I will have reggae dance parties and I’ll show her how to play Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” on the drums, just because it’s a cool tune.
Well … I just took a 45 second break to check ‘30 Seconds’ and found 15 submissions awaiting approval. Hint: I am not oblivious to acronyms. Per the implemented policy, profanity is not permitted, and I will not approve posts that are acronyms for phrases containing profanity. I dislike censorship as much as the next gal, but they’re not going to get approved. Figure out how to get your message across without it, or I’ll just continue to delete them. Gracias.
In his poem titled “Pretend,” Buddy Wakefield wrote, “We’ve got 6 billion dawning truths, setting 6 billion different suns on you.”
I like that you all have opinions. I like that I disagree with most – if not all – of you. It keeps my days interesting, to say the least.
Alright, this was longer than intended, and I still need to paint my nails, finish my book, and bake cookies.
In no particular order.

Sports Editor’s playbook, Oct. 30, 2013

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Patrick Newell

Hard to believe time has flown by so quickly, and it seems one sports season blends into another. I was still in the mindset that Norwich varsity tennis players Breanna Cashman and Jennifer Borfitz were still juniors, and had another year to compete for a sectional championship.
I snapped out of it when head coach John Stewart called Monday afternoon as a follow-up to his phone message Sunday. “Those two “seniors” and their impact on the program the past three years is still being felt,” Stewart told me.
Cashman and Borfitz were Johnny-come-latelys to tennis after playing other sports through their freshmen years. In their first year, 2011, they played as Norwich’s top regular season doubles team, and posted a nice winning record on a club that had Class B champions Bryn Loomis and Sophie Stewart.
With graduation comes promotion, and the two netters moved up to second and third singles a season ago. Again, winning records followed, and the duo made a nice run at doubles in 2012 sectional play.
Borfitz and Cashman jumped to first and second singles for all but a handful of matches his year on a team that lost just one match the entire regular season, and one in the STAC playoffs. Norwich won a division championship, and was one point from winning a Class B sectional title. Not a bad finish for a Tornado team led by a pair of seniors who never played competitive tennis until two-plus years ago. “I just wanted to say goodbye to my seniors because they made a big difference in our tennis program,” Stewart said, who added that Norwich may not have been a .500 team without them. “It will be sad to see them go.”

Wrestling, similar to every other sport these days, is a 12-month commitment to attain excellence. Evidence: Norwich junior Tristan Rifanburg. Rifanburg added to his prodigious list of accomplishments winning “The Freak Show” out in Las Vegas this past weekend. Facing many of the best high school wrestlers west of the Mississippi, Rifanburg dominated the competition winning five matches by a combined 36-2 score. Those victories were capped by a 6-0 decision in the 138-pound high school elite finals. The story appears in Wednesday’s sports report. Rifanburg, a state champion as a seventh-grader, was just a few seconds away from a state title this past winter, and he should be considered a favorite this coming season.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat.

Just pay your fine now, we’ll tell you what you did wrong later.

Friday, October 25th, 2013
Matt White

Slapping the hand of too-big-to-fail financial giant JPMorgan is, for lack of a better term, Bogus. That’s right. Bogus. In an attempt to “teach them boys a lesson” JP Morgan has announced that it is ready to pay off it’s fine; to the tune of $13 billion to the U.S. government–potentially one of the largest such settlements ever enforced.
Seems pretty harsh to you and I, right? So why am I complaining? In the fourth quarter of 2012 alone, JPMorgan earned $5.7 billion in profits. The also reported that they took in $99.9 billion in revenue and $21.3 billion in net income in 2012. JPMorgan managed to notch its third straight year of record profits despite enduring the most embarrassing loss in its history.
But that’s not the reason why. In fact, money has absolutely nothing to do with it.
Instead, anyone willing to read between the lines will see that this is just another example of smoke and mirrors orchestrated by the Department of Justice soap-boxing how tough it has gotten on banks, giving Main Street the warm feeling that Wall Street has finally paid it’s debt to society.
The financial marketplace is not a safer one Problem is, no new rules or guidelines have been implemented to make risky business and unsavory dealings illegal. One of the biggest travesties of the matter is the fact that no one knows exactly what the huge settlement is for, because the details haven’t been released.
JPMorgan was begged by the government in 2008 to buy up the troubled Bears and Stearn and WaMu firms, who were the REAL perpetrators responsible for catastrophic risky lending, in order to stabilize the financial crisis. I’m fully abreast to the notion that “you get what you pay for”; and JPMorgan knew that going into the transaction, which is why CEO Jamie Dimon set aside something like 24 Billion dollars in a rainy day fund to pay for these ill ventures when the tax man would inevitably come to collect.
That day has come…but with what resolve?
That is a very good question.

TV grids are useless

Friday, October 25th, 2013
Shawn Magrath

It amazes me that people still use the TV grid in the newspaper. Given our Jetsons-like era of instant information, you would think a TV grid in a small town newspaper would be as useless as an ejector seat in a helicopter. Just an observation…

After three weeks of being the sole reporter for The Evening Sun, this week I relinquished my title as senior/seasoned/and cub reporter all rolled into one. Welcome to the newest Evening Sun employee, Matthew White – reporter, columnist and, I think, a black belt in taijutsu. Though Matt comes from a background in construction, he’s fitting nicely at Chenango County’s hometown daily and with a few stories already under his belt, he’s off to a terrific start. Of course, we are still hiring one more reporter in the near future. Changes are forthcoming (fingers crossed, knock on wood, find a four leaf clover, sneeze three times before breakfast for good luck).

On a separate note, it’s been more than three weeks since the federal government rolled out the new Healthcare.gov website to encourage people to enroll in a healthcare plan to satisfy the individual mandate of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Supposing you don’t already know, the website has more than few glitches. In the past weeks, it’s become a scapegoat for Republicans to further criticize the new Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.” To me, it seems like a petit argument, using a bugged website to criticize an impending law we’ve known about for months. I admit, I have my own qualms with Obamacare (specifically my belief that it’s a train wreck in the making). Nevertheless, I know it’s right around the corner. The fact that a website has some issues to work out doesn’t reverse months and month (and months) of news coverage leading up to the Jan. 1 deadline that starts the individual mandate. But despite my reservations, I don’t blame a website. I’m smart enough to know Obamacare is the new law of the land… website or not.

Also noteworthy, this is my 100th blog. Release the balloons and confetti. Parade will commence in ten minutes…

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Oct. 11, 2013

Friday, October 11th, 2013
Patrick Newell

Last weekend Unadilla Valley captured its Kick for the Cure boys soccer tournament beating rival Bainbridge-Guilford in the finals. While the victory was sweet, the premise behind the tournament – recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month – helped raise money for the Danielle House in Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton. UV head coach Ryan Houck was a driving force behind the tournament, and the charity for which the donations will be sent was particularly meaningful to the Storm mentor. Houck’s own mother is a breast cancer survivor who used the Danielle House during her recovery. Houck’s leadership and civic awareness will surely trickle down to his charges, who by the way, have fancied a pretty nice 2013 season. Houck is also happy to report that his mother has recovered nicely, another big win for the UV community.

Winning is the best recruiter
We’ll find out this weekend if the Norwich girls tennis team will add a Class B title to its 2013 STAC division title. The Tornado netters placed juniors Breanna Cashman and Jenni Borfitz in the finals after Thursday’s first round, and freshman Makenzie Maynard is playing for third place. All three came up through the Norwich system playing other sports, but switched to tennis. And why not? Head coach John Stewart has churned out winning season after winning season – for boys and girls – and the hanging of championship banners has become the norm rather than the exception.

Down year for local football?
Seems that way if overall records are an indication. We have documented Sherburne-Earlville’s 5-0 start to the season and a number 15 state ranking in Class C. The other five local football teams have compiled a combined 7-18 mark for a winning percentage of 28 percent. B-G’s and Greene’s respective streaks of winning seasons are in serious jeopardy. One more loss for the Bobcats (1-4) will snap a seven-year skein, while Greene (2-3) needs to win three of its final four games to extend an eight-year streak.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Congrats to our new editor

Friday, October 4th, 2013
Shawn Magrath

It looks like a busy weekend ahead in the City of Norwich. The Chenango SPCA is holding its annual “Did Somebody Say Walk” fundraiser in Weiler Park, the Norwich Merchants Association is sponsoring the second Fall Crafts Festival, and the 15th Annual Pumpkin Festival kicks off in East and West parks. If ever there was a good weekend to get out and take some photos for the Evening Sun Facebook page, this is it.

My congratulations to Evening Sun Sun Interim Editor Ashley Biviano for making it through her first week in the captain’s seat without breaking a sweat (at least not to my knowledge). They say the hardest part of change is starting over, which is what Ashley has shown to do in her new position. The amount of time it takes to build one paper is extraordinary and Ashley has certainly served her time, as evidenced by the new tally marks scratched on the wall behind the editor’s desk. She’s in the office when I arrive in the morning and she stays there long after I leave in the afternoon. Quite honestly, I’m convinced there’s a tether connecting her ankle to her her desk; when she gets too far out, it snaps her right back. I’m thinking of getting her a cot and portable stove – and maybe a goldfish just to keep her company.

On that note, we are down to one reporter now – a role filled yours truly. I ask for your patience as we try to fill the two open reporter positions as quickly as possible. If you know someone, or know someone who knows someone who can write, feel free to mention to them that there are openings at Chenango’s hometown daily. Once you get past the past all the Clark Kent/Superman “mild mannered reporter” jokes and the occasional “Hey, Scoop!” it’s really not a bad gig.

And on a different note, I don’t often claim myself to be a fan of a particular television show but I’ll make an exception for “Breaking Bad.” The show ended last weekend to the tune of 10.3 million viewers. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’m finding it harder to browse the web (or even be in the office) without coming across a spoiler alert or two. This must have been what it was like for Star Wars fans when “The Empire Strikes Back” was released. Imagine going a week without knowing Darth Vader was Luke’s father…

My streak is over

Friday, October 4th, 2013
Patrick Newell

My streak is over.
For 18-plus years, I have made my way into work each morning, flipped on the computer, and started the design of that day’s sports section. Earlier this week, I had some elective surgery to repair a chronic issue, and missed work on Monday and Tuesday. While Monday’s paper was chock full of sports from the previous weekend, the Tuesday and Wednesday editions were not. In an editor’s note last Friday, Sept. 27, I advised readers of my absence, and I hope everyone was patient in waiting for their sports results to appear. They did, just check out the inside sports pages from Thursday, Oct. 3 .
While in school, I typically received some sort of year-end attendance award for missing less than four days of school. That was my only sterling achievement during high school since awards are not typically given to “B” students. From an early age, my parents instilled the ideals of responsibility and work ethic in me and my three sisters. We were assigned different jobs around the house, and were expected to complete them. When my parents were away, the “mice” did not play.
I have carried that ethic into my working career, and since my college graduation 23 years ago, I have missed just two days of work – and none at the Evening Sun. Yeah, I have battled my share of illnesses, just like everyone else. But missing a day here? Since I am devoid of a backup on the sports desk, my issue has been “who will write the sports?” I suppose my love for the job has something to do with my resolve to show up every day. And so, I embark on my next 18-year perfect attendance streak happy to have a great job, great co-workers, and a desire to do the job right. Heck, where else can you watch a game, scarf down some snacks, and actually get paid to do it?

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat