Archive for November, 2013

What IS a “good” parent?

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Matt White

I read a shared article from the Huffinggton Post recently that made me reflect a bit on the organized madness that has become my life with children.
The gist of the piece touched on that fact that most parents, like myself often feel unworthy of “great parenting” status and oftentimes – through the false guidance of other “perfect” parents – battle the self-criticizing war on being a well balanced parent; with hopes of raising a well balanced child(ren).
The writer, Steve Wiens, explains his biggest pet peeves in simplest form, which I can appreciate: The “Perfects” will say things like “You should enjoy every moment now! They grow up so fast!” False. Sometimes, that just isn’t the case.
What exactly would be the point of “savoring the moment” your prepubescent daughter immobilizes herself in a tantrum because she dislikes the flavor of her toothpaste, all of which you know is just a ploy to extend the pre-bedtime routine? I dare you to explain to me how this moment will be worth thinking back on and reminiscing over in twenty years. Not every single moment of our child’s life was meant to be relished in the first place. Just trust me.
Now, I’m sure many of you will conclude that I am some sort of horrid excuse of a guardian based on that though, and many more will claim to romanticize every waking nanosecond you child spends breathing; but let’s be realistic. You’re not fooling anyone.
Much like Weins, I’d like to take these folks (The “Perfects”, NOT the children) and hold them under water… just for a minute; just until they start to panic a little bit. Maybe then the “Perfects”will understand the gravity of having 7 arguing children under one roof at once. Maybe then they’ll understand why the first 3 minutes of dinner – when they’re all stuffing their little faces – is my favorite part of the day; maybe then, they’ll know or remember what it feels like to not be able to “take it anymore.”
Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining, friends. It’s a very rare occasion when we’re all actually at the table at once. The majority of the time the size of the table seems exaggerated. I have two ex-spouses and we share our children, which is still a relatively new concept for me. Usually about five minutes after my children return to the care of their mother; the silence sets in and I can tell you with all certainty that I’d rather have them there arguing with me about how much they “don’t like corn” or talking back like a Disney diva than not at all.
Everyone’s heard the adage “with age comes wisdom,” or the like. I am slowly learning how to let things that I used to be so adamant about slide for the sake of my children’s autonomy, and for the sake of peace. I’ve come to understand that each of them need to be dealt individually and not as an army brigade. The dialogue in our house is ever changing and I swear I’m doing my best. I DO cherish most of the precious little time I spend with my kids out of default, so please don’t try and drive the point home by cramming it down my throat. Not every second of parenthood was meant to be framed on a wall.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Nov. 21, 2013

Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Patrick Newell

Dave Kelly was coaching varsity high school football two years before I was born. The second winningest coach in Section IV history announced his retirement this week, according to a Daily Star report. Kelly has patrolled the Delhi sidelines for nearly five decades, and of his 272 career wins, dozens have come against Chenango County football brethren. Kelly stepping down brings me back to my first memories of Delhi football.
My first year on the job,1995, Delhi was the cream of the crop among Class C teams in Section IV. The opening weekend of my first season – 1995 – Delhi began with a 53-0 thumping of B-G/Afton. Three weeks later, in the annual grudge match with Walton, Delhi blasted the Warriors, 40-0. At that time, I didn’t know a heck of a lot about Section IV football outside of Norwich, but I was quite familiar with Walton’s winning tradition. In fact, Walton was coming off a Class C state championship just one year earlier. That blowout was an eye-opener for everyone around Section IV.
Delhi was still unbeaten when I saw the Dave Kelly-led Bulldogs visit Greene for the Trojans’ season finale. It was a mauling from the outset as Delhi cruised into the postseason blasting Greene, 52-0. I surmised, at the time, that it would take a great team to top Delhi. Turns out, there were multiple teams out there as good or better than Delhi.
Following the completion of the football season – for area teams, at least – I went to my first state tournament playoff game riding along with the late Tom Schwan. First, we watched Deposit beat Weedsport in the Class D quarterfinal with the Class C game – Delhi versus Dolgeville – to follow. It was a slugfest, one that was decided by one point as Dolgeville handed the Bulldogs their lone loss of the season, 7-6. Dolgeville ended up losing a week later to eventual state champion Leroy. After watching Delhi rip through what I thought was a decent Greene team, it was my belief that Delhi was a state title contender. However, I wound up learning an important lesson: There are different levels of “good.”

Two Norwich girls sports teams had brushes with greatness this past fall sports season. The NHS soccer team lost to Oneonta in convincing fashion, and the volleyball squad was toppled by Owego. At last weekend’s state championships, Oneonta captured the Class B state title. Likewise, Owego won a state title. The latter club I was fortunate to see in a late-season Norwich home game. I missed the opening game, one in which the Indians captured the set, 25-6. With Owego subbing liberally in the next two games, Norwich closed the gap significantly, but was still swept in all three sets. I suppose the set not seen was the best determinant of the Indians’ abilities, one predicated on fine passing and a dominant net game led by 6-foot-3 middle hitter Rachel Merrill. Norwich fans will get another look at Merrill this winter when Owego’s basketball team visits the Tornado.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Plenty of busy, plenty of debate

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Ashley Babbitt

I’m not going to lie. This week has been hectic and is only going to get busier.

I know a lot of folks get impatient, but a lot goes on behind the scenes that you don’t see. It’s great to get a call from a reader who wants to chat for 20 minutes, but that puts me behind with responding to emails, updating the community calendar, planning upcoming special sections, holding staff meetings, updating “30 Seconds,” and most importantly – building the next day’s paper. During that phone call, three others tried to call so now there are voicemails to listen and respond to.

In no way is any of this a complaint, it’s a terrific gig and lots of fun. Plus, those random calls turn out to be pretty interesting and enjoyable.

I’ve finally figured out what it boils down to, and I’m in denial about it.

I need to start making lists.

I’ve always been “anti-to-do list,” but the time has come to suck it up and deal with it.

We’ll see how it goes, and how long it actually lasts. (My money is on seven days).

Anyway, a while back I wrote a blog and I think I titled it, “Who will I debate with now?” It’s what I wrote when former Staff Writer Kevin Doonan left to have adventures in Baltimore. Kevin, Shawn and I were the writers at the time, and we’d spend parts of our days debating about almost anything you could think of. The role of government, good music, Breaking Bad, social issues, economics … and, well … anything. Kevin and I knew each other from years back, and he and I don’t see eye-to-eye on plenty of issues. It made working in the office with him fantastically entertaining. And Shawn is always a riot.

I’m super happy to report that even though Kevin is “no longer with us,” (note to self: that was a poor choice of words when he first moved, many people offered condolences and thought he unfortunately passed away), I have new people to share ideas with.

There was the one month period when Shawn and I rocked the news portion of the paper on our own, and when we’d feel like talking about whatever, I would make my way to the corner in Kevin’s old spot and discuss (heatedly) my views on taxation, road maintenance, the justice system, and The White Stripes. Those were the days … right, Shawn?

Matt and Brittany, the newest additions to the editorial staff, bring their own history, experiences and opinions to the table, so there is no lack of excitement when someone brings up a topic. It’s great.

The four of us mesh like … well … I have no idea. Basically we’re just four vastly different human beings who spend all day working together and sharing ideas, sometimes loudly.

By the way, Kevin, if you read this, you should stop back and we’ll all go out to lunch.

Now I know I started this out by commenting about how busy things have been, but I will never let myself become too busy to enjoy every single day. Part of enjoying my days involves interactions with folks and the sharing of opinions. Not only am I super opinionated, I love to listen to other viewpoints. Enjoying my days involves blasting reggae music before anyone gets there for the day and after everyone leaves.

And interestingly enough, enjoying my day also involves building you folks a newspaper.



They have the right to know

Friday, November 15th, 2013
Shawn Magrath

In spite of the surprise speed bump that slowed us down the last couple months, we are steadily restoring order in The Evening Sun newsroom. After losing two reporter positions and an editor in September, I think we’re close to getting all four wheels back on the ground. Our two newest reporters, Matt White and Brittany Grove, have adjusted their chair to the way they like it and are still learning rules of the reporting gig. Meanwhile, I’m settling back into my old beat: county government, Norwich City government, the Norwich City School District and a few not for profits in the area. It’s a slow return to normalcy after having covered everything – or at least, desperately trying to cover everything – during that month long stint when I was the only reporter on staff. As for Ashley, she’s growing the thick skin needed to take the public ridicule that comes with the ever so coveted job of newspaper editor. It’s amazing what she’s put up with so far, even though she is getting $90 an hour and a company car to do it…

Admittedly, our hometown daily has taken a hit in recent weeks. News stories have been slow to get out and there’s been more than few errors made along the way. Readers are becoming frustrated as are some local voices who feel their newsworthy tips are being underplayed or simply ignored altogether. In the broad scheme of things, it’s a feeling that’s warranted. After all, the bulk of our readership pays for local news and it’s certainly not unreasonable to want what’s paid for. County residents have a right to know how their taxes are being spent. They have a right to know how, or even if, elected officials are working in the best interest of the community. They have a right to know what’s happening in their hometown, the positive and the negative that can effect them both directly and indirectly. They have the right to know how their own decisions might themselves and others. They have the right to know and we here at The Evening Sun are obligated to serve as a viable source of information.

But at the same time (and at the risk of sounding cliché) Rome wasn’t built in a day. We are in the rebuilding process at The Evening Sun. I believe we finally have a good team of reporters on board, one that’s up to the challenge of learning the intricate details of every story from every approachable angle. We each carry with us a unique perspective while at the same time, doing our best to view each story objectively. And if there’s something we have missed, I believe we each share the same commitment to make it right because like I said, readers have the right to know.

The only thing I ask in return is a little bit of indulgence. We may be up to full staff but that’s a far cry from making us perfect. We will continue to improve but in the meantime, I’m asking for just the slightest conveyance of patience and understanding for me, for our new editor, and for our two new reporters. We’ll get there.

Tioga’s win over Unatego: One for the record books

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Patrick Newell

I tuned in to WCDO FM’s Saturday afternoon broadcast of the Tioga-Unatego Section IV Class D championship game. My old friend, play-by-play man Harry Graves, was on the air killing some minutes during halftime. Before heading to commercial, he announced the score at halftime: Tioga 59, Unatego 12. Huh? I thought I misheard Harry until he repeated the score before the third-quarter kickoff. Wow, I thought, then quickly concluded that this was yet another blowout for the Tigers, so I switched the channel. Sorry Harry.
You may be wondering why am I devoting space in my blog to two teams with only tangential connections to Chenango County football. The answer lies in my affinity for statistics – and Tioga and Unatego beat a couple of our area teams this season quite handily.
Saturday evening, I looked up the final scores of Section IV championship football games (there were other games scheduled other than Tioga-Unatego). As expected, Chenango Forks rolled past Waverly in the Class C final, and U-E and Vestal’s clash in the Class A title game ended in a close U-E win. As for the Class D game that I wrote off, the final was 80-53. I told my stepson the score, and he asked me if Tioga’s basketball team was good. The implication: He thought I was giving him a hoops score.
The basketball season is still three to four weeks away for most teams, and I’m not sure if Tioga’s basketball team is any good, but I know its football team is among the favorites in the state playoffs this year. That despite the amazing second-half statistical performance of Unatego’s offense.
Granted, the Spartans amassed a large chunk of their points – and yards – against Tioga’s second and third string defense, but those statistics are straight out of a video game. Tioga’s numbers were pretty darn impressive as well, especially with the starting unit calling it a day after two quarters.
For the game, the two clubs racked up over 1,200 yards of total offense in 48 minutes of play. That equates to 25 yards of offense per minute and projects to over 1,500 yards of offense in an NFL-length game. Tioga’s first string offense scored on its first seven possessions accumulating nearly 400 yards in the first half alone, and it rushed for over 600 yards in the game. Mind you, the second unit had over 200 rushing yards in the second half.
On the flip side, Unatego was in hurry-up pass mode the entire second half, all of it engineered by sophomore quarterback Josh Feyerabend. Feyerabend drew raves from our area coaches this past season, and all he did was set a state record for passing yards in a game. Feyerabend completed 12 passes in the second half for 356 yards, and he finished with 581 yards passing and seven TD passes. According to reports, five Unatego receivers had at least 80 receiving yards, and four of those TD passes went for 45 yards or more. Best stat of all; Feyerabend is just a sophomore. “The scariest thing about (Feyerabend) is that not only a sophomore, but he’s that calm and that good,” said Unadilla Valley varsity football coach, Mark Segina. “Granted, (Feyerabend) has a couple great receivers, but he throws the ball on the rope, and he can also gash you on the read option.”
Segina, whose team lost to Unatego last month, said he has studied Unatego’s offense, and says has no problem filching plays from the Spartans to make his club better. Sounds like a good idea.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Nov. 8, 2013

Friday, November 8th, 2013
Patrick Newell

The last we saw of Norwich basketball, the boys’ team was in the throes of another second-half comeback, a rally that fell a bucket shy of reaching the team’s ultimate goal: A trip to Glens Falls and the Class B final four.
It was Norwich’s fourth intersectional state playoff game since the Purple Tornado won back-to-back state championships in 1993 and 1994. All four of those games have ended in defeat, but that one-point loss to Westhill – 59-58 – was easily the closest Norwich has come to victory.
Collier said that nine players on this year’s 13-player squad have varsity experience, and seven of those veterans were instrumental figures in last year’s playoff run. That said, all of that experience is no guarantee Norwich will get another shot at a state playoff run.
“I’ve seen a few people who have told me they believe we’re the team to beat this year,” Collier said. “I tell people, ‘we’ll see.”
Indeed, Collier is quick to mention last year’s team chemistry and incredible leadership of departed seniors Kyle Edwards, Grant Brightman, and Danny Carson. Edwards was last year’s leading scorer, and all three were tremendous on the defensive end of the floor. Can this year’s team recreate last year’s dynamic that was a confluence of talent, chemistry, leadership, and intangibles?
Defense remains the Tornado’s calling card. In Collier’s two years at the helm, Norwich has held opponents under 50 points more often than not. While the wins have not always look pretty, Collier anticipates an offense that could be more explosive. In next week’s sports section, we’ll take a more in-depth look at this year’s Norwich club as it vies for a third straight sectional championship.


If you get an opportunity, look up “The Medicine Game” on the Internet. It’s a story of Native Americans Jerome and Jeremy Thompson and their quest to play for Syracuse University’s acclaimed lacrosse team. The documentary is filmed over a seven-year period, and was written, directed and produced by Oxford Academy graduate Lukas Korver and his partner Jason Halpin. The film has already aired on PBS, and may still be available for viewing on the Internet.
Korver, a graduate of SU’s Newhouse School, was honored last month when his film won the Clyde Scott Award for best sports feature at the 22nd Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. We hope to track Korver down next week for an interview. Said Lukas’s brother Erik, who was credited with the film’s still photography: “Lukas put his life into (that film) for those seven years. We are all pretty proud of him.”

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

I didn’t let your elections kill my happy; I’m a fan of good

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
Ashley Babbitt

Since the hotly contested elections are now over, everyone can take a deep breath. …Phew. We all survived.

However, I would like to discuss ’30 Seconds’ briefly. I would apologize for the hiatus of ’30 Seconds’ for a day or so, but I’m not going to. There are guidelines for submissions, and I’d be safe in assuming only about 30 percent are ever appropriate. When folks blatantly choose to disregard the posted “rules,” it eats up both my time and yours. When I go to check ’30 Seconds’ and see many with inappropriate language it is discouraging. I understand you folks are passionate – but please – be a little more humane.

This leads me to a speech I heard while in New Hampshire this past weekend. It touched upon the sharing of ideas among neighbors. It hit home.

How often do you go over and visit your neighbor? Or the man or woman four houses down? Just to say hello. Or maybe have a conversation about the weather. Maybe even chat for a bit about a book you’ve just read, or a play you watched, movie you went to … anything. When is the last time you met up with an acquaintance just to share ideas you have about a certain topic? Can you even name the folks on your street?

A lot of local residents were talking about “community” and how the towns should not be divided. But in all reality, we’re all separate entities. We live in the same areas, but we’re so vastly different it’s amazing.

One of my neighbors is a lovely elderly woman. She has apple trees and a garden. She doesn’t like the stray cat that often chills on her porch. Not because she doesn’t like cats, but because she has noticed the cat being a bully. This was great for me to learn. As I have a cat, I wanted to be sure it wasn’t my little guy being a nuisance, and I quickly learned it him. It turns out the cat that gets into her garden is the same little guy that beats up my kitty when he goes out. So now “Operation Find Bully Cat” is underway.

I suppose my point is, I know her and I are not remotely on the same page when it comes to most things, and I totally dig that. I am a 25-year-old free spirit who comes and goes at all hours of the night because that’s always been my style. She’s always been a great neighbor.

You know what I think would be cool? To go introduce yourself to someone you may not know too well. Share some of your thoughts or ideas.

I love to meet new people (even though in all reality I’m a super socially awkward introvert). I enjoy individuals with completely differing opinions than my own. To have a half hour conversation with someone on the total opposite side of the spectrum is fantastic for many reasons. One, it’s fun to hear another “argue” their side of an issue. I’ve always been into that sort of thing. While I may totally and completely disagree, I’ll hear you out before spouting my opinion. And of course, when I say “spouting my opinion,” I mean that in an absolutely respectful, but passionate manner.

I know my sister doesn’t count as a “neighbor” or “acquaintance” but she and I are as far apart on most issues as they come. As the younger sister, I – naturally – think I need to have the last word, and if she’d let me, I’d debate with her for hours on issues including education, taxation, government intervention, and, well … just about anything under the sun. All in good fun of course.

That’s what I’m trying to say. I see folks being “internet bullies” to one another all day long. Most of these submissions don’t make it through for your eyes to see. But I read them and delete them. You can get your point across without being disrespectful.

You can get a lot further – in my opinion – by developing a relationship with your neighbors rather than living in your own little bubble. I’m not suggesting everyone be friends. That’s not how the world works. Maybe there is someone a few houses down who has an interest in some sort of literature that you’re into. What if you introduced yourself, chatted a bit, and realized he (or she) has a book about whatever-it-is that you’ve always wanted to read. That would be really cool. Maybe you have a conversation about politics. Maybe you just leave a note that says, “Just wanted to say hello from down the street. Have a great day!”

I mean really … you just never know.

Perhaps you know some folks in your town that you know are on the “other side of the fence” on a certain issue. It might be a nice idea to meet up for coffee and have a chat.

In my opinion, it’d be nicer to realize there aren’t only two sides – but that’s for a time when I’m not this tired.

It’s been a long few weeks. I refused to let your elections kill my happy.

Now that it’s over I’m sure there will be another week or so of backlash. Bring it. Respectfully.

I do encourage you all, though, to go introduce yourself to a stranger and share some ideas. If not a stranger, someone you haven’t talked to in a while. “Hey, how have you been? Man, how do you feel about this fracking thing?” And then after you hear them out, share some thoughts of your own.

“Gee, this SAFE Act is garbage … what do you think?”

“Wow, I didn’t expect (insert election results of your choice here).”

I encourage each of you to go do something of this sort. It’s not only good for your soul to share ideas, it’s good for the other soul.

And after this 14 hour work day, I’m a fan of good.


A blog about blogging… and so-on.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
Matt White

One of my duties as a staff writer at a small hometown daily, is to contribute – at least weekly – to an online blog. I know The Evening Sun’s newest addition, Britt Grove, took no time in publishing her first blog, which is to be commended. I often forget about it, until someone in the newsroom mentions it… and then I usually spend a good 30 minutes or so trying to remember if I actually wrote or not this week. Moral of the story, for the three of you who read this blog (which is clearly an exaggeration): I’ll get there.
In the grand scheme of things, the Blog is situated lowest on my flagpole of priorities. In addition to writing daily for the Evening Sun, we as reporters have a host of other duties that vie for our attention; and all have a deadline that must be kept. For instance, I also write for our sister publication – The New Berlin Gazette – which thankfully is a weekly publication and other various editorial responsibilities that randomly make it to my desk with a simple “Por Favor” scratched on.
I’m sure it’s been uttered more than once; but a debt of thanks should granted to ES Senior writer Shawn Magrath and the Hometown Daily’s new Managing Editor, Ashley Biviano. The pair, along with good ol’ Pat Newell, the Norwich sports staple – who, regardless of his awareness IS an exceptional writer – managed to keep the outward appearance of this old girl moving gracefully into the future without haste. The stresses of daily deadline and expectations of the circulation were undetectable to the masses. They’ve carried the torch half-staffed, and Britt and are now here to share the weight of burden. Challenge accepted.
Inevitably, if I have not already erred, I promise now that I will. I also promise that I will try my hardest not to.
So, for now… that is all. I have other things to accomplish before day’s end.
You stay classy.