Jeff's Reporter Blog

Editor’s Notebook: 2/27/12

Monday, February 27th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• I figured it was about time I remembered how to blog again, with March drawing nigh and all. I’m hoping despite the slight resurgence of winter over the weekend, that spring really is right around the corner.

• Congratulations to Greene’s Kyle Stanton, whose wrestling triumphs over the weekend made the front page today. Kyle’s the son of my fellow Oxford Academy alum, Janet Ardron Stanton. Kid cuts quite the imposing figure!

• Woo-hoo, another dollar store! Actually, it’s the same dollar store – Dollar Tree has moved from Broad Street to the Tops Plaza on East Main, as NBT’s continued expansion required even more space. Good news? More like shell game, if you ask me. Certainly seems to be a good move for Dollar Tree, and the Tops Plaza looks a lot healthier – but now there’s a giant strip on Broad (first the old A&P, now Dollar Tree – and the old Resnick’s Mattress, et al.) that’s gone from retail space to office space. Which would be a bad thing if retail space downtown were at a premium, but unfortunately it’s not. Six of one, half dozen of another, as my mother would say.

• Big news in the ES newsroom today — we’re embarking on our first major editorial software upgrade since 1994! Seems like only yesterday the good folks of Baseview came out here from Ann Arbor to install NewsEdit for the first time. And while the software did see a series of reiterations through the years, it’s begun to show its age. Today, Baseview’s known as MediaSpan, and instead of a team, we got one guy (progress, presumably) … but I for one am pretty excited. My trusty reporting staff doesn’t do a whole lot beyond your basic word processing, but for someone who works end to end (and under the hood) like me, it’s pretty gosh darn exciting. Between this and the upcoming issue of the iPad 3 … OK, I’m going to stop drooling and move on.

Editor’s Notebook: 2/9/12

Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Always a good day when I can put a picture of a rabid raccoon on the front page – today in negative!

• Afton defeated a proposal for a new town hall this week, and it must’ve been a hotly-contested issue if over 500 voters turned out in that town! Looks like Julian should get out there more often – tonight, in fact.

• I’m remiss in mentioning that our soon-to-retire classified ad rep, Jan Rowe, was named The Evening Sun’s Employee of the Year here last week. Congratulations, Jan! Don’t let the door hit you … wait, I’ll be nice. In all seriousness, it’s an honor truly deserved, and long overdue. And I would know, because I’ve won it myself. Only took me 18 years.

Editor’s Notebook: 2/8/12

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• So “tomorrow” turned into “Wednesday,” but here it is – Blog # 217! Woohoo! Why the uncharacteristic use of exclamation points, you ask? Well, as an astute reader pointed out to me (I honestly forgot our website tracked such things), I have now surpassed the much-missed Melissa Stagnaro as The Evening Sun’s most prolific blogger. Trust me, it’s a milestone only in our own minds, but Melissa would appreciate my gloating. Competitive girl, she was.

• Shawn’s story today made me want to break down and finally try out the Caboose diner in downtown Norwich. Sounds like owner/chef/chief bottle washer Kris Passafiume has done a great job with the place. I still have misty, water-colored (or, more likely, smoke-clouded) memories of Millie’s, the restaurant’s storied predecessor. Like the honey badger of recent YouTube fame, Millie didn’t take no *@%^. Especially when you were young, loud, obnoxious and drunk at 2 a.m. after having just stumbled out of Smitty’s. Believe me, I know. But damn I miss those over-easies.

• Congratulations to my friend Karen Sastri, the NBT exec recently elected to the New York State United Way’s Board of Directors. See, Karen? Told you I wouldn’t embellish your biography :) Nice to see Chenango being represented well on the state level!

Editor’s Notebook: 2/6/12

Monday, February 6th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• “Chenango sees double-digit sales tax increase.” Always nice to write a good news headline on a Monday. You’ll have to read the story to find out what the county treasurer attributes it to, of course. Or you can read only the headline, and come to the conclusion, as did one ‘30 Seconds’ poster, that “Sales tax is up because of Agro Farma. Duh. What a bunch of genius.” Indeed. Someone’s eating a hell of a lot of yogurt in Chenango County to cause a double-digit sales tax increase!

• Proud to say I did not follow the lemmings and watch the Super Bowl yesterday, even if just for the commercials. Or Madonna and M.I.A. Yikes. When was the last time we had a good, family-friendly halftime show that everybody liked? I say bag the whole thing next year and let the cheerleaders do a kickline or a pyramid or whatever cheerleaders normally do and call it a day.

• Before I devolve into yet another treatise on the weather, I’m going to call it quits for today. Tune in tomorrow for my 217th blog on evesun.com, surpassing, I must note, our all-time blogging champion, Melissa Stagnaro, who ended up with 216. I win!

Editor’s Notebook: 2/3/12

Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Friday seems to have worked out to be a good news/bad news kind of day, depending on your perspective. The county’s natural gas advisory committee all but gave up the ghost at a meeting earlier this week, deciding to meet half as much due to the lack of progress in the Marcellus Shale prospects in New York. On the good news front, Unison’s proudly declaring a sound, stable future in Chenango County for years to come, thanks to higher demand for its aerospace products and the success of its corporate owner, GE. That’s always good to hear.

• A shout out, again, to my unnamed friends at Chobani, who apparently read my blog a few installments back and sent me a case of their new flavors I’d lamented not having tried yet. I’ll be sure to do a taste test this weekend and report back :)

• On a similar note, I have never owned a Cadillac. Worth a shot.

• Headed over to the Arts Council tomorrow night for “Kaleidescopika” performance (hopefully that’s the last time I’ll have to try to spell that). Should be a good show … and a Members-only reception at the Bohemian Moon, to boot. Pays to be an arts supporter in this town, let me tell you!

• Got any plans for Super Bowl Sunday? … I don’t even know where I’m going with that. It’s Friday afternoon, and way too late to pretend to care about football.

• On a somber note, Brian, Julian and I just went down to Behe Funeral Home in Oxford for Fred Stagnaro’s calling hours. He was, of course, the father of our former colleague and dear friend, Melissa Stagnaro. Our hearts go out to you and your family, Melissa, and our deepest condolences on your loss.

Editor’s Notebook: 2/2/12

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Insert obligatory remark about uselessness of Punxsutawney Phil’s “prediction” here.

• And yes, @ScottBSheldon, “Gobbler’s Knob” does sound incredibly dirty.

• Check out George Franke’s debut “Outdoors” column on today’s Sports page. Welcome to The Evening Sun crew, George!

• Yup, that’s former Evening Sun crime reporter Sean Brigham (now of Norwich Dodge) in “jail” on today’s front page for the MDA Lockup. Always knew you’d end up behind bars, Sean!

• Cleaning out my in box, I found this neat little link to a blog about Norwich’s Caboose Diner (forever in my heart as Millie’s) … Unchained Restaurants.

• Speaking of Groundhog Day (and aren’t we all?), here’s a little poem sent in to me by Norwich’s Perry Owen. I didn’t have anywhere to work it into the print edition, so I thought I’d share it here.

MARMOTA MONAX

When GOD in six days made the world,

He had some stuff to spare,

He scarce knew what to do with,

Just teeth and bones, some fur and hair.

He’d already made all creatures, on land and sea and air.

So he stuck these bits together, and said because I’m GOD,

From now and in the future,

I’ll call this stupid creature, a woodchuck or groundhog.

This rat-like parody of creatures,

Short in limb and small in brain,

Got all the food he needed,

From leaves and grass and grain.

He’d dig a hole to sleep in,

All the winter long,

Until the spring awakes him hungry,

Like a breakfast gong.

No match against those snarling gangs,

Well armed with predatory fangs.

Full of fright, he could not fight,

Just sit up on his hind legs, and then run with all his might.

So derided was this animal,

That some folks used his name,

To insult their fellow humans,

And pour upon them shame.

You can tell these poor woodchucks,

Their down upon their luck.

With tatty jeans and shaggy beards,

Driving rusty beat-up trucks.

Now GOD regretted what he’d done,

To see groundhog the butt callous fun.

He determined that he’d make amends,

So, in old Woody’s eyes he gifted weather trends.

And now the groundhog’s famous,

For each February, he will bring.

The foretelling of more wintry snows,

Or the Harbinger of spring.

Perry Owen, Norwich

Editor’s Notebook: 1/31/12

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Jeff Genung

• So if March comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion … what happens when January goes out like a … flamingo?

• Chenango County Habitat for Humanity has picked its next project family – Lorraine Cornish and her two sons of Bainbridge. Here’s an organization which has helped several families over the years – with a hand up, not a hand out – in providing affordable housing built from the ground up. This is a non-profit with international fame, of course, but they operate with relatively little fanfare in Chenango County, save for a cadre of dedicated volunteers and a handful of very happy families. I still think it’s pretty amazing that we have an effort of that caliber right here in our own community.

• The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta tried faxing The Evening Sun this morning – only they had my desk phone number. One of those annoying robo-calls that keeps trying until it gives up. They never did get a fax through. Or an e-mail. Or a phone call. I hope we didn’t miss something important, or something to do with Gwyneth Paltrow. Wearing a mask to go grocery shopping tonight just in case.

• Heard of a few people scrambling for those now sold-out Fur Ball tickets. Would it be wrong to scalp tickets for an SPCA fundraiser?

• In case you’ve missed our in-house advertising, or the Facebook post, we’ve got a new columnist starting on our sports page on Thursday. George Franke has taken on the mantle of outdoors columnist from the late, great and sorely missed Bob McNitt. George and I have both acknowledged that no one can ever replace Bob, but there’s an avid group of outdoor sports enthusiasts among our readership here in the Land of the Bullthistle, and it’s an audience that deserves to be addressed. I’m looking forward to seeing what George will do with it. Look for his new column every Thursday in section 2.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/30/12

Monday, January 30th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Winter seems to be teasing us a bit here in the Land of the Bullthistle, with an inch or two of snow here, a bitter cold snap there. Just yesterday I was playing with my dog up at Rotary Park in gorgeous afternoon sunshine, and this morning I had to shovel my sidewalk. Gotta love Central New York.

• Speaking of which, although it’s plenty cold today, it really hasn’t been for long – prompting the Oxford Lions Club to move the annual Chenango Lake Perch Derby from this Saturday to Feb. 18.

• Shawn had a story today about the SPCA’s annual Fur Ball fundraiser coming up on the 11th, but I heard after we’d gone to press that they are indeed sold out. It’s the social event of the season, it seems – a good time for a good cause at the perfect time of year when we need to get out of the house the most. While you can no longer get tickets to the event, you can, of course, make a donation to the SPCA and help Chenango’s four-footed friends get through another year.

• Julian’s story today was about the Oxford Library planning a tea featuring young ladies and their ‘American Girl’ dolls. All well and good for them, certainly, but frankly I find these diminutive girl dolls utterly creepy. Perhaps in the more Cabbage Patch than Chuckie way, but still.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/25/12

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Not really a big shocker that the proposed ambulance district got shot down yesterday in both New Berlin and Columbus – judging by ‘30 Seconds,’ anyway. I’m not sure people really understood what they were voting on despite our best efforts to keep them informed, but the mob mentality was certainly against it. I can’t help but hear the late Kathy O’Hara’s voice in my head sometimes — when discussing editorial topics, she’d say, in her best Chenango twang, “Are we fer it, er agin’ it?” Stay tuned; I’m sure there’s more to this story.

• Accidents are never good news, of course, but they do often make for great pictures. We used a couple in the print edition today (that intersection in Oxford has been scary since I was a little kid), but I put even more of Brian’s photos up on our Facebook page because, darn it, helicopter rescues are pretty dramatic.

• Progress Chenango 2012 continues to roll out this week – sections 5 and 6 were in today’s edition. I’ve heard a lot of positive comments so far, which is exactly what we’re looking for. Not positive as in “praise us, we’re wonderful” (although that’s always nice, too), but as in “wow, Chenango’s really got something special going on.” That’s why we do it, you know — to highlight the “Progress” our community is making every day. And there’s a lot of it!

• Caught quite a bit of the State of the Union address last night, although I admit to nodding off near the end (I’m getting old, what can I say?) My favorite part isn’t necessarily the speech itself (that gets analyzed and ripped apart ad nauseam immediately after and for days), but rather the entrance shots. Watching the President arrive anywhere is always a tad awe-inspiring, but at the State of the Union in particular I’d pay to be a fly on the wall. All those politicians jockey for position to get close to the aisle as the president walks in, each hoping to get his attention – or curry his favor – for 15 seconds or so. If only the commentators weren’t chattering over every barely discernible syllable … I’d love to know how the president’s ear was bent last night.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/23/12

Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Jeff Genung

• As of early this afternoon, I am officially done with Progress Chenango 2012. For you, of course, it’s just beginning – with Sections 1 and 2 (of 10!) included in today’s paper. If you haven’t seen our Progress editions before, a.) Why are you reading this blog? and b.) I think you’ll really be amazed at the tremendous amount of business success, innovation and ingenuity that we have going on here. I know I am, and I’ve seen every one of ‘em.

• Someone called today and asked, in all seriousness, if a certain town supervisor requires that he read our notes after a reporter attends a town meeting and “approves” them. Umm, no. Supervisors and town boards may well approve the official minutes taken by the town clerk, but not those of a reporter. Ever. Sorry, caller, if I choked a little bit on that one. Whoever told you that was pulling your leg, or amazingly ignorant.

• Congratulations to Brad Ward, the latest in a long line of Eagle Scout Wards. Julian’s done a couple nice stories on Brad’s recognition and his Eagle Scout project at Rotary Park. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Brad act his heart out on the Sherburne-Earlville stage a few times, too. Good kid. Always nice when we’re able to highlight the achievements of high school students, particularly (for me, anyway) off the playing field. If you know of more who deserve the spotlight, give us a call!

• Wow, you really can’t shake a stick … err … spoon … without hitting a story on Chobani in the media these days. While we’ve done about a hundred of our own, of course, I decided to give the Associated Press version front page play today too, especially since it addressed the whole Greek yogurt craze in general. If you’re reading this, Agro Farma, I have not had a chance to taste test the pomegranate flavor yet. Please and thank you.