Archive for November, 2014

A time to give back to those who give back

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
Ashley Babbitt

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I found it appropriate to write my blog about an event tonight that is to help benefit a Norwich native who has been providing aid to Jamaican children for years.
Thanksgiving eve is known to be one of — if not the biggest — bar night of the year. Many folks have traveled home for the holiday and go out to see friends they haven’t seen in perhaps years.
This year, Norwich band Seek the Lion is playing at Rita’s Tavern in Norwich and is passing a hat around the establishment for those individuals who are feeling the mood to give to a cause; the endeavors of Jeffrey Neadom.
Neadom travels to Jamaica to aid children in need.
Neadom said, “The seed for helping out Jamaica was planted in 1993 when I camped there for 3 weeks. “In 2012 on my birthday eve I started the Jamaican Schools Project on Facebook in memory of my mom.”
Neadom added that he teamed up with the president of the PTA at Craighton Primary School and raised funds to renovate the boys and girls bathrooms.
Last year, Neadom returned to Jamaica and renovated the nurse’s office and sick bay, supplied them with beds, mattresses, bedding and medicine, and painted the canteen and principals office. He additionally tiled and pained in the nurse’s office and the sick bay.
Neadom plans to head out to Jamaica again, and there are funds necessary in order to complete the projects to help out the children in need.
“This year I’m hoping to resurface the playground and do a small library/reading room,” said Neadom.
Seek the Lion’s guitarist Nate Collins said, “With all the terrible things happening in the country and world right now, we’re just glad that we can help Jeff make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
Drummer Nick Andrews said anything that individuals are willing or able to spare to help Neadom out is greatly appreciated.
“We have known (Neadom) for years and for years he has helped to rebuild schools in Jamaica,” said Andrews. “Tonight we are passing a hat to raise money for his next trip. Hopefully with what we raise he can at least get the kids some more things they need.”
Neadom said, “Now I’m just trying to give them (the children) a safe place for recess. There are 125 students so it’s cramped, but the resurfacing will give them a lot more room.”
A woman who donated money to Neadom’s fund, Sandy Myers, said, “After my recent trip to Jamaica, I can completely appreciate the work (Neadom is) doing. Keep it up Jeff, you’re doing a good thing.”
As a group, Seek the Lion shared its goal. Any money raised to send out with Neadom will help guarantee a safe and healthy schoolhouse for less fortunate children. The group said they want the youth to succeed and one of the best ways to do that is give them the opportunity to do so.
“Thanks everyone it means a lot to us and the kids,” said Andrews.
Seek the Lion describes its sound as “reggae dance music.” The show at Rita’s Tavern begins at 9 p.m.
Local musician Ben Miner is set to open for the band beginning at 8:30 p.m.
“I’ve got a few donations so far, and several people have committed to giving, so I’m feeling good,” said Neadom. “Family helps.”
Those unable to make the show due to the snow, or due to being out of the area, but who still would like to donate to the cause can visit Neadom’s GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/jamaicanschools.

A smoke-screen of progress, or the real deal? You decide.

Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Matt White

Progress is great, Especially when economic progress takes hold right here in the heart of Chenango County. If you were to take a look back at a snapshot of our beloved Route 12 corridor say 20 or even 10 years ago, it’s easy to see that things have dramatically changed in our ever-evolving bit of small town USA.
Back when Burger King was Carrol’s, and the Great American was in the South Plaza there was only one shopping center south of the city, an area which now hosts several big-box retailers and three or four shopping plazas for your consumption pleasure.
In the next month or so, the Town of Norwich will become home to two more brick and mortar businesses that are new to our area, both of which are in the process of developing and building those locations from the ground-up.
As I sat at the traffic light in between two shopping plazas with – empty storefronts in each, I couldn’t help but wonder why those locations were overlooked by developers scouting-out prime retail space.
I was confronted by the fact that for some time now, both of those plaza’s, emblazoned with “AVAILABLE” banners have historically served our community – but have nonetheless been dealt the short shrift in favor of new construction.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not one for conserving just any old building, but one site in particular – which I can only assume will be razed shortly after this publication – once housed several residential apartments.
It already possessed a potential profit return in an economy so unwilling to offer mortgages to home buyers. To put it bluntly, there aren’t enough rental properties in Chenango County, and that’s especially the in the case of the City of Norwich. So why would tear down an apartment building to toss up what I’m told will be another auto parts store… in front of an auto parts store—one-half mile down the street from yet another auto parts store?
I am in no way trying to get in the way of business, nor am I condemning economical development to our largely sagging local market – but I am questioning the common sense that was put to task in making these types of decisions. Not just the market analysis, or need for such retail additions in our community, but the rationale behind brushing existing retail space aside.
It’s my feeling that businesses should be both interested and concerned with the long-term effects that their developments and plans have on the local livelihood, and that these concerns should be taken into consideration when the plans are drawn up and laid out.
Likewise, local officials involved with green-lighting PILOT programs and tax write-offs to potential businesses looking for a new opportunity in our hometown should put the screws to developers when they come to town, because—lets face it—who wants to see another new-old empty storefront in Chenango?
Honestly, wouldn’t it have made more sense to utilize one of the several existing structures for a mattress outlet or chain auto parts store and preserve the much-needed affordable housing?
How would that not have been a win-win?
Developers would undoubtedly balk that it would be too costly to update those older locations to meet their specifications, but as a former tradesman I beg to differ.
Even if building new cost “them” less, I’ve got a feeling that it will be us taxpayers footing the bill if or when the new site goes belly-up.
I could be wrong, but what if I’m right?
Food for thought.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Nov. 4, 2014

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Patrick Newell

I have a column running in the Wednesday, Nov. 5 edition, and below is a portion of the piece. Check out the full version in tomorrow’s online and print editions:


Although Oxford fans may not fully agree, the Blackhawks’ 40-39 loss to Deposit-Hancock Thursday, Oct. 30, is a perfect example of why I love sports.
You never know what is going to happen.
CBS television staple, “Survivor,” has spawned dozens upon dozens of so-called reality shows where real people are placed in real-life situations. Alas, nearly every one of those real-life situations is contrived or manufactured, and ultimately hours and hours of footage is edited into a drama-inducing one-hour weekly show.
The protagonists, real men and women like you and me, are complicit in these farces.
With sports, what you see is what you get. You may not see a cliffhanger where you curse the program because you have to wait until next week’s show to find out how Jimmy or Susie resolved their conflict.
But you will often see a nail-biter that has you screaming at the top of your lungs…and there will be a resolution.
Back to Oxford’s football game.
I often wonder why teams with nothing to play for, other than pride, schedule a meaningless week nine game. Deposit-Hancock lost the previous week in the Class D playoffs – badly to Tioga – and had about five starters out of the lineup.
Oxford, meanwhile, was coming off its first victory in four games. With a .500 record, it could have packed up the jerseys and pads, and called the first season under head coach Jeff Newton a success.
The Blackhawks won just a single game in nine offerings in 2013, and in most of those games, it wasn’t close to competitive. The 2014 Oxford version was much improved, that despite a number of young players seeing starting minutes, and rampant injuries on the offensive and defensive lines.
The game was scheduled for a Thursday evening, instead of Friday, and the only explanation I heard for that was a potential conflict with Halloween trick-or-treaters on the ensuing night.
Two other local teams, Bainbridge-Guilford and Unadilla Valley, had games scheduled on Thursday as well, but the game times and sites of those football games conflicted with my schedule. (My stepson had his final Norwich modified football game of the season, and I couldn’t miss that!).
I knew I would be cutting it close with the modified game ending around 6:30 p.m. I rushed (within the speed limit, of course) down Route 12 to Tony Abbott Field (née Blackhawks Stadium), and made it just as the teams were lining up for the opening kickoff.
Oxford scored on its opening drive, but there was nothing good about the rest of the half for the hometown Blackhawks. The first two quarters reminded me of my most recent viewing of Oxford two weeks earlier – the bad parts.

The past three seasons, I’ve had an able fill-in photographer, Missy Hayes, who regularly attends home and away Norwich football games. She had a vested interest in previous years with her son Ryan, who was a member of the Tornado until graduating last year. She has continued to take pictures (quite well) this season, and her photos are available for viewing and free to download at http://s1158.photobucket.com/user/purpletornadofootball/library/2014-2015%20Football%20Season. It’s a site started by Cindy Ashton, who also supplied our paper with many good photos. Missy has kept the site alive and full of great Norwich photos.


Norwich football coach, Mike Chrystie, gave me a great idea for a future column. He suggested a column about the superstitions of coaches. One look at Mike, and I surmised his superstition was growing out his beard (like hockey players), until his team lost. After six-plus weeks, Mike is about one-quarter of the way to James Harden’s beard.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell