Melissa's Reporter Blog

Playing Jeff

Friday, May 6th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

As you may have surmised from the comments Jeff dropped all week, our fearless leader is off today. In fact, as we speak, he’s headed to our nation’s capital with his cronies for a long weekend.

I’d be happy for him, if I wasn’t so darn jealous.

Not that I have time to waste on such emotion, because in Jeff’s absence I’m pulling double duty. Not by myself, of course. It takes the entire ES editorial staff to put out the paper when our editor in chief isn’t around.

It’s been awhile since Jeff has deserted us (or taken a vacation day), so we were a little rusty this morning. But we better get used to it, because this was just a trial run. Apparently he intends to resume his 4-day work schedule in June. Thereby ruining my summer. (Life just isn’t the same without Friday Lunch to look forward to.)

One of the tasks I pick up while he’s out of the office, is checking his emails. And believe me, he gets a lot. Much of it unsolicited, and even more, outright spam. At least that’s how I categorize the press releases from the New York State Arm Wrestling Association and the 12 messages we’ve received about Judgment Day. (Which is, apparently, just 19 days away.)

And, of course, there is the online 30 seconds forum. Having to wade through and approve/disapprove posts is like being condemned to my personal hell. My favorites are the multiple posts by the same person under different monikers (Man from Norwich, Woman from Sherburne, etc.). FYI – I can see your IP address. Just like we can recognize your voice when you call our reader reaction line.

Perhaps I wouldn’t despise the task so much if I was free to comment on the lunacy. But, alas, that’s not an option. Jeff was VERY specific with his instructions. And even though he’s probably a couple of states away by now, I wouldn’t dare do anything to displease him.

Like, say, raid his secret cache of snack food.

Oopsie. I guess I better do something with these wrappers.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Chenango’s bounty

Friday, April 22nd, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

I spent much of yesterday at the Chenango County Ag Summit V. Sponsored by the Chenango County Ag Development Council, it was an opportunity for area farmers and others related to the ag industry to discuss issues related to agriculture.

It really was a thought provoking experience, and I learned quite a bit from listening to the speakers, panel and even the conversation around me. Especially when it came to labor issues and different farming philosophies. (Don’t worry, you’ll get to read all about it next week.)

The coolest part of the experience, though, wasn’t just hearing about the diversity of agriculture in our region. It was getting to taste it. The day’s menu included a wide array of local foods, all produced and prepared right here in Upstate New York.

I knew I was going to enjoy the day as soon I arrived at Canasawacta Country Club and saw the morning’s refreshments: Coffee courtesy of Chenango Coffee Roasters, milk and cream provided by Evans Farmhouse Creamery, a generous supply of Kutik’s honey and – be still my heart – a tasty assortment of petite pastries from La Maison Blanche. (You haven’t lived until you’ve tried their almond croissants and pain au chocolat. Yummy!)

I’m not going to lie. I made numerous trips to that delightful table all throughout the morning. But don’t worry, I didn’t spoil my appetite for lunch.  Which was truly a feast of local products, all artfully put together by Canasawacta’s culinary genius, Sue Ryan.

There was a salad bar resplendent with greens from Finger Lakes Fresh, feta cheese from Euphrates (Agro Farma’s sister company), New York apples and maple-coated nuts from Baker’s Maple in Bainbridge. The dressing to go with it was a sweet and spicy concoction made with Evans Farmhouse Yogurt and some of Baker’s maple syrup.

And that was just the beginning! There were ham sliders made with fresh ham from Quarry Brook Farms in Sherburne and topped with New York apples and Evans cheese; and hamburgers made from Quarry Brook Farms’ grass fed beef. There was quiche as well, made with eggs from Sunrise Farm and Lash Taylor, more Evans cheese and chorizo from Quarry Brook.

Dessert? Chobani yogurt parfaits with a variety of maple-coated nuts from Bakers and granola from Upstate Harvest.

Everything was delicious, right to the last morsel. And the best part? Knowing that most of it was produced right here in Chenango County.

Help support Chenango’s diverse agriculture industry by buying local foods. It just doesn’t get better, fresher and more local than that!

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

The passing of George E. Staley

Monday, April 11th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

Being the first one in the office this morning meant I was the one who discovered George E. Staley’s obituary on the fax machine. Although I didn’t know him well, learning of his death still caused me great sadness.

I had been on the job here at The Evening Sun for less than two weeks, when Jeff handed me a last minute assignment which prompted my first visit Northeast Classic Car Museum.

I’d heard about the place, which opened during the years I spent living far from Chenango County, but never had the opportunity or really the desire to  walk through its doors. I’m not really a car person, you see, so I figured it wasn’t for me. But, like the good little cub reporter I aspired to be, I feigned enthusiasm and trotted out the door, camera and notepad firmly in hand.

The event I was sent to cover was the H.H. Franklin Club’s 55th annual Franklin Trek, an annual get-together of enthusiasts of the classic automobiles which were manufactured in Syracuse from 1903 to 1934.

I knew the NECCM was said to be home to the world’s largest collection of Franklin’s, but I didn’t really have a concept of what that meant – or the passion Franklin aficionados had – until I turned the corner onto Rexford Street that day.

For a second, I thought I’d literally stepped back in time. Rows of gorgeous antique cars, reminiscent of a bygone era, filled the museum’s parking lots. And it only got better when I stepped inside.

Much to my own surprise, I was instantly enamoured. Each of the museum’s exhibits are truly works of art – marvels of American ingenuity and creativity with beautiful lines and an aesthetic appeal which today’s cars are sadly lacking. They have both beauty and grace, as well as a hint of romance and mystique.

Doreen Bates, NECCM’s executive director, took me around that day. (As she has on a couple of occasions since.) From her, I learned the provenance of many of the vehicles on display. I was floored by how many were part of the Staley Collection, meaning they were either on loan from or donated by the museum’s benefactor, George Staley.

Doreen spoke of Mr. Staley with such reverence, that I was nervous to meet the man himself. But I found him to be, as those who I interviewed this morning all affirmed, incredibly kind. His obvious enthusiasm and love for his cars was evident immediately, and I could instantly understand why so many held him in such high regard.

We didn’t have him to ourselves for very long, for there were a number of Franklin enthusiasts clamoring (very respectfully, of course) for his attention as well. Brief as our conversation was, I treasured the time none the less. Both because he truly lived the history you and I can only read about in books, and because his passion for his collection shone through. After meeting him, walking through the museum took on even more significance.

His willingness to share not only his collection, but his love for classic automobiles, is truly a gift to this community. Through it, we can experience an aspect of history we could never have experienced without his generosity.

Thank you, Mr. Staley, for the legacy you have left behind. And to the Staley family, my heartfelt condolences. May you find some small comfort in knowing how many lives this great man touched in his lifetime, and will continue to touch in years to come. While he may no longer walk this earth, he will live on forever in the hearts of many.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Staley.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

April Fools

Friday, April 1st, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

We at The Evening Sun played a little April Fool’s joke on our website today. While most of our readers found it entertaining, it seems to have ruffled quite a few feathers as well. Jeff took it down before it incited any more riots. But, seriously, folks. Lighten up a bit. It is April Fool’s Day after all. (And I don’t see how anyone could possibly read the piece in its entirety and still think it was true.)

I’ve included it below for your reading enjoyment. Happy April Fool’s Day!

Those of you without a sense of humor might want to stop reading….NOW.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

School’s out: Gov orders Chenango schools to merge

By Melissa Stagnaro
Sun Staff Writer
mstagnaro@evesun.com

ALBANY – In one fell swoop, New York’s governor has wiped all nine of Chenango’s public school districts off the map.

Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order early this morning which will abolish each of Chenango’s individual school districts and create one consolidated county district in its place.

The surprise move has school officials reeling.

“What the &**&#@ does he think he’s doing?” exclaimed Norwich Superintendent Gerard O’Sullivan, after hearing the news.

“Is he out of his &*^^%$* mind?” asked his counterpart at Oxford, Randy Squier.

Unadilla Valley Superintendent Robert Mackey concurred.

“*&$#% &^%$$,” he said, adding that the unilateral decision by the governor is completely unprecedented.

According to Cuomo’s directive, the countywide school system will be known as the Afton/Bainbridge-Guilford/Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton/Greene/Norwich/Otselic Valley/Oxford/Sherburne-Earlville/Unadilla Valley Unified School District. Or, ABGGMGNOVOSEUVUSD, for short.

Its mascot, the Guinea pig, will be clad in the school color – a dull excrement-like brown which represents an amalgamation of maroon, white, red, black, blue, purple, green, yellow and gold. According to Cuomo, this is in homage to the rich history of the nine districts he is rubbing out.

The governor has set aside $300 million in state funds for the construction of a single facility to accommodate the consolidated district’s almost 10,000 students.

Students will need to be bussed from all corners of the district’s more than 900 square mile footprint. A spokesman for the State Education Department officials estimated that most students will spend no more than 2 to 3 hours on a bus each day.

“What, do you think that’s too much?” he asked, adding that the decision was above his pay grade.

One hundred administrators and 1,000 teachers will be required to run the facility – a significant increase over the number currently employed by each of the 9 districts. A tentative budget for the unified district is double the combined current spending of all Chenango’s school systems.

“I know it seems excessive,” the spokesperson admitted, “but don’t look at me. I’m just the yes man.”

Cuomo has not stated his intentions for the 26 school buildings currently in use. However, a source inside his office reported that $92 million has already been earmarked for their demolition, despite the fact that the vast majority have recently undergone multi-million capital improvement projects.

“He doesn’t give a rat’s ^%$#. He’s bat &^% crazy,” said the source, who spoke with The Evening Sun only after being promised anonymity.

APRIL FOOL’S!

Rum Cake

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

I have a new love in life, and its name is Rum Cake. Whoever thought of taking a plain, run-of-the-mill Bundt cake and soaking it in rum was a genius. A genius, I tell you!

I have partaken of my share of these delightful confections in the past, but was recently re-introduced courtesy of one of my ES coworkers.

A coworker who, incidentally, has since been elevated to FAVORITE status.

Said colleague had just returned from a trip to the Caribbean and had brought back one of the aforementioned cakes as a sort of consolation prize.

Was I jealous that she had just enjoyed 10 days in a tropical paradise while I’d been stuck in an unending procession of school board meetings? Duh. Of course. But I wasn’t about to turn up cake.

I gladly gobbled up the offered slice. As soon as that rum-soaked goodness touched my lips, my bitterness instantly dissolved. It was as if the universe aligned and angels began singing on high. Bliss. Absolute bliss.

This, I thought, is the answer to all the world’s ills.

I mean, if the cake Marie Antoinette offered to the starving French peasantry had been this spirit-laden variety, things may have gone down differently for the soon-to-be headless royal.

Problems would be resolved much more easily if the quarreling parties sat down to share a rum cake first.

Henceforth, I propose, all gatherings should involve rum cake. Particularly school board meetings…

And now you’ll excuse me, won’t you, while I try to hunt down a good recipe.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Second Sunday

Monday, March 28th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

I don’t know about you, but my weekend never feels long enough. Even when I don’t have an event to cover, there just never seems to be enough hours in those two measly days to adequately decompress from one week and mentally prepare myself for the one to come.

When Sunday night rolls around, I can feel all that work related tension starting to build again. The very act of setting my alarm for Monday morning is enough to make me weep openly.

At the first trilling of said alarm, it is as if every cell in my body rebels, simultaneously jerking me awake and plummeting me even further into despair. In those seconds, I clearly see every second I wasted during my days off. I then spend the rest of the morning fervently wishing I’d made better use of my down time. Or that I’d suddenly come down with a highly contagious disease and therefore have a legitimate reason to stay in bed.

It was in one of these fits of desperation that I had a bit of an epiphany. A “eureka” moment, if you will, in which I saw the answer to all of our prayers. I believe my sub-conscious took its inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional world, Middle Earth. Specifically the hobbits, who took such joy in their daily meals that one breakfast wasn’t enough – hence the need for second breakfast.

Similarly, I think we need an extra day in our weekend. And in honor of Bilbo Baggins and his ilk, I propose we call it Second Sunday.

Who’s with me?

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

The Weather Rock

Friday, March 25th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

Last Friday was a picture perfect 60 degree day. I went straight home after work and went for a walk, delighting in the sunshine. It made me wish I knew how to whistle. It was just that kind of afternoon.

I gave winter what I thought was its last hoorah on Saturday, hitting the slopes at Greek Peak with my friend Doreen. A fitting way to spend the last official day of winter. Come Sunday, I was ready to pack away all of my warm weather gear and welcome in the spring. For once, I thought Punxsutawney Phil would be right.

Of course all those fanciful notions came crashing down Monday morning, when I woke to find four inches of heavy wet snow blanketing the world outside my window.

Was that supposed to be a joke, Mother Nature? Because I didn’t really find it all that funny.

My morning commute was treacherous to say the least, but I made it to work safe and sound. (Albeit a little late.) Others had a worse time of it, judging by the sheer volumes of calls over the scanner for cars going off the road.

It was like, just because it was officially spring, everyone forgot how to drive in the wintery conditions we’ve been living with for months. Panic set in.

That’s the only explanation I can find for Wednesday’s premature school closures. According to the forecast we were supposed to get a few inches of snow. But four of our local schools closed for the day before even a single flake had actually fallen.

I’m sure they had the safety of their students in mind when they made the decision, but I’m sure they were kicking themselves when all that snow we were supposed to get never materialized.

Oopsie!

I’m not going to beat them up over it, though. I’m sure they’ve already gotten plenty of slack. Particularly since they were already out of snow days (or at least close to it).

Let’s face it: this is upstate New York. The weather is as unpredictable here as anywhere. Probably more so. Half the time there is no use even looking at the forecast. It’ll just be wrong.

I myself use a different method, one recommended to me by my good friend Jim Root. It’s called the weather rock. (There’s rumor he has a patent pending, but that’s unconfirmed.)

The principle behind the weather rock is simple. Rather than relying on notoriously inaccurate forecasts, one simply looks at this sage piece of stone. If it’s wet, grab your umbrella. Snow covered? Better have your boots at the ready. If it happens to be shining brightly in the sunshine, make sure your favorite pair of shades are handy.

Really, you can’t go wrong.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Rest in Peace, Elizabeth Taylor

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

This morning, the world learned of the death of one of Hollywood’s greatest legends. Oscar winning actress and legendary beauty Elizabeth Taylor passed away at the age of 79. She had been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles for several weeks prior to her death, where she was being treated for congestive heart failure.

Born Elizabeth Rosamond Taylor, the London born star first achieved fame as a child actress. By the time of her death, the two-time Oscar winner had more than 70 film and television credits to her name.

There is no disputing the fact that – particularly in her youth – the raven-haired, violet-eyed beauty defined Hollywood glamor. She practically dripped with diamonds on most occasions. But despite her beauty and her wealth, there always seemed a certain sadness about her. Perhaps because of her rocky all-too-public private life.

But she had humor, too. My favorite quote is one about her numerous marriages. (She may very well hold the record – 8, I believe, to 7 different men.)

“I am a very committed wife. And I should be committed too – for being married so many times,” she once said.

She was fiercely loyal to her friends, as evidenced by the way she stuck by Michael Jackson through all his scandals and legal woes. And she had a good heart. Following the death of her friend Rock Hudson, she became one of Hollywood’s first AIDS activist, raising millions for the cause.

Of all her work, I prefer her earlier films. My favorites include Life with Father, Father of the Bride, Father’s Little Dividend and Elephant Walk.

In them, there was a wide-eyed innocence to her flawless beauty. That’s how I’ll always remember her.

Rest in Peace, Elizabeth Taylor.

Follow me on Twitter… @evesunmelissa.

Luck o’ the Irish

Thursday, March 17th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

I’m not exactly resplendent in emerald green and shamrocks today. My concessions to the tradition of wearing green on this most Irish of days are a scarf with splotches of the color and a small shamrock pin which says, “Luck o’ the Irish.”

I’m proud of my Irish heritage, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t have a lot of kelly green in my closet these days.

And let me tell you, I’m regretting it. Because the day’s promised good fortune has definitely passed me by.

My string of bad luck started last week, when I accidentally filed a 2-year old story in place of the one I spent Friday morning slaving over.

Since then, there have been far too many other mis-steps and mistakes to count. Quite the laundry list, really. I’ll spare you the gory details.

Today takes the cake, though. Or, Irish soda bread, to be more culturally correct.

Like the industrious, proactive staff writer I aspire to be, I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon writing my column for today. I filed it in our Editorial queue before I left for the day.

This morning, I decided to give it another go over. I did a little rearranging, tightened some things up and really felt like I was able to tie it all together. The process took me about a half hour or so, and cut into the time I’d allotted for the story I was working on for today – on yesterday’s Good Morning, Chenango! breakfast.

I was further delayed by an unfortunate incident involving my hand and the bathroom door. How I managed to slam my poor little fingers in the door is beyond me. After all, I’ve successfully accomplished closing the door without pinching any appendages numerous times every day for the last 2 1/2 years. Heck, I’ve been closing doors my whole life without incident. But not today. And on deadline, no less!

I would have uttered a few choice words but, of course, I gave that up for Lent. So I made do with a bit of whingeing and wailing, and shook the whole thing off. Or at least I was trying to, when I became distracted by the swelling and discoloration. And did I mention that it really hurt?

Although not as much then as it did about an hour later, when I accidentally bumped the swollen digit against something. (I have no idea what!) That had me seeing stars.

So between that, and the column-induced time delay, I failed to meet deadline with my lengthy story about the breakfast. Lengthy because it entailed almost mini-Progress pieces for each of the four companies featured at the event. Anything less wouldn’t have done them justice.

I was still lamenting my missed deadline a little after 10, as Jeff was updating our website. That’s when I made another realization. Remember all that time I spent editing my column? It was all for naught. Because I never saved it in the editorial queue, so the unedited version ran.

That discovery cost me $1.25 to the swear jar.

Looking on the bright side, who needs leprechauns and rainbows. By the time Easter rolls around, that jar will be the Lenten equivalent of a pot of gold.

In case you’re wondering, next year I’ll be all decked out in green to make sure I get my share of that good old Irish luck.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa

Because I can’t bear the thought of my carefully edited version of today’s column never seeing the light of day, I’ve included it here with its working title.

Wanted: a few good school board candidates

Sure, I gripe about the sheer number of school board meetings I attend in the course of my duties here at Chenango County’s Hometown Daily. (Which I fully maintain is over and above what any human should be forced to endure.) But while I may moan and complain about the drudgery of attending frequent meetings in multiple districts, I don’t disdain the boards themselves.

Despite their drama and occasional dysfunction, they plan an important role in our public education system. They are an integral part of our schools, providing both policy and fiscal oversight for the district. But they also do something even more profound, because with their leadership they chart a course, not only for the district’s current and future students and our communities, but really our society as a whole.

The job isn’t without its challenges. And it can be thankless at times. Since they are the ones making tough decisions, and very much in the public eye, board members often take heat from different stakeholders.

So, why do they do it? Because they’re dedicated to the community. They care about our schools, our students. They recognize the need for committed community members, willing and able to serve, and they answer the call.

Some years not enough people – or not the right people – answer that call. Within the last three years, at least two of our local schools had fewer candidates on the ballot than they had positions open. In other cases, people may have run for the board without a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the position, or the time commitment required.

That is a scary thought when our schools are facing so many challenges. They’re getting the double whammy, really, when it comes to the budget. On the revenue side, there are staggering losses in state and federal aid to contend with, not to mention a proposed property tax cap. And on the expense side – well, lets just say pension contributions, health insurance premiums, energy costs and contractual wage increases are exacerbating those fiscal woes.

At the same time, schools are being held to even higher academic standards by the State Education Department, will need to comply with Race to the Top and dealing with myriad other issues.

Yes, these are trying times indeed. Jobs, programs, services, the tax burden born by district residents and, ultimately, students, hang in the balance. That makes it more important than ever to have qualified candidates to fill school board vacancies at each of Chenango’s nine school districts.

And let me tell you, there are a lot of seats open – 21 in all countywide.

New York State’s requirements for serving on a school board are pretty straight forward. A candidate must be over 18, able to read and write, qualified to vote and live in the district which they wish to represent. (Specific residency requirements vary from 30 days to 1 year depending on the district.) In general, they cannot be employed by the board on which they wish to serve; reside in the same household with a family member who is also a member of the same school board; nor can they simultaneously hold another incompatible public office. To be on the ballot, each prospective candidate must also collect signatures during a specified period in April. (25, with the exception of Norwich which requires 100.)

Just meeting those requirements doesn’t guarantee a person is qualified for the position, however. According to the New York State School Board Association, the best and most effective school board members are those who communicate effectively, build consensus, participate in the community, aren’t afraid to make decisions, can process information, are able to work as part of a team and exhibit leadership skills.

They should also be comfortable wearing a cape, in my opinion. Because someone with all of those skills and qualities, willing to step forward and run for school board is a hero in my book.

I’ve been told by both current and former school board members that there is one moment which makes all the time and effort of their board service worthwhile. It’s the moment when they watch a graduating senior walk across the stage to receive their diploma, and know they had a part in the process.

So, as Harry Callahan likes to say, you have to ask yourself one question: Are you up for the challenges of such an important role? If you care about our community, our schools and our students and feel you are up for the task, I hope you will consider it. Because Chenango County’s schools – and students – need you.

If you are contemplating a run for your district’s school board, I would encourage you to attend one of two forums being held this weekend.

The sessions, called “School Board Service: What community members & leaders should know,” are a program of the Chenango Foundation. They will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday at the Greene High School auditorium; and from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday at the DCMO BOCES Chenango Campus Dining Room.

The sessions are designed as a prep course of sorts for potential school board members, and will feature a panel discussion. The panel will consist of Linda Bakst from the New York State School Boards Association; William Tammaro, Superintendent, DCMO BOCES; and (fingers crossed) former Norwich City school board member and Leadership Chenango facilitator Judie Wright.

Each panelist has extensive knowledge of public education in New York State and experience working on or with school boards. During the two hour session they will discuss the roles and responsibilities of school boards, the time commitment involved, basic information on budgets and the planning process and many other topics relevant to school board service. There will also be time for questions, and packets of information from NYSSBA for participants to take home. Not to mention refreshments. What’s a forum without refreshments, right?

This is the first time the Chenango Foundation has offered the program, which is free and open to the public. If you’re considering a run for school board, it’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss. For more information, or to register, contact Jennifer Tavares at 334-5532 or via email at jtavares@chenangony.org.

Remember: Chenango County schools need you.

On chaos, competition and the ES subscription drive

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

It’s only Wednesday morning and I’m already longing for this week to be over. While at the same time wishing I could hit the pause button and prolong the next day or so indefinitely.

I know, it doesn’t make much sense does it? But I’ve had a pretty crazy week so far. By noon on Monday, I already felt like I was playing catch up. So I’m fighting twin urges. On one hand, I just want it all over. If only I had (I Dream of) Jeanie’s ability to blink it all away. Or, alternately, to have time stand still long enough for me to actually catch my breath.

My typical work week is speckled with meetings – some during the day, others in the evening. They tend to slot in around my morning deadline and the rest of my day – which I spend tapping away at my keyboard, doing phone interviews and scheduling more of the same. It’s kind of organized chaos, and I love it. There’s a definitely balance to having a couple of articles ready to write, with others waiting in the wings so you never have to scramble for something to write on deadline. (Which for me is definitely the worst case scenario. I don’t need that added pressure before my second cup of coffee.)

This week is another matter all together. I’ve been swamped with meetings and events all week. Monday it was the Board of Supervisors meeting during the day and a lengthy Norwich school board meeting at night. Yesterday, the National Ag Day luncheon at the Silo and another school board meeting, this time at Oxford. And bright and early this morning, Commerce Chenango’s quarterly Good Morning, Chenango breakfast.

I’m not begrudging any of these meetings. There were great discussions, great presenters and I know the topics discussed will make great stories. And that’s stories in the plural, since I know I’ll be penning a good 2 or 3 at minimum from each.

Which is really the crux of my problem since, running around and in between all of these events, I’ve had little time to sit down and do any actual writing.

It’s a good problem to have, I suppose. It means there is a lot going on in our little corner of the world. All right, so it would be nice if it was a little more spread out, but we’ve got to take it where we can get it.

After all, it’s kind of job security. Not just for me, but for our whole business. Because as long as there are local events, businesses, etc. making news, we’ll be here to report it. I’m proud to be a cog in that wheel, particularly today, which is The Evening Sun’s 120th anniversary. That’s right, 120 years of being Chenango County’s hometown daily newspaper.

And, proudly, still going strong.

Hopefully even stronger by the end of our subscription drive. It’s not too late to take advantage of our special “120” deal. New print subscribers get 4 weeks free with a paid 13 week subscription. (That’s 17 weeks for $46.15 for those living in the City of Norwich; $47.45 for motor routes.)

There is a deal for online subscribers as well: six months for $50 or one year for $99.

To make it a bit more interesting, Jeff’s turned the subscription drive into a bit of a contest for our editorial staff. We reporters get credit for each person we sign up (or who signs up as a result of our efforts.)

It’s no secret that I’ve got a competitive streak (a mile or so wide…), so I’m going to sweeten the deal: I’ll donate $5 to Relay for Life for each person who mentions me when they purchase their new subscription. Not only will you get home delivery and/or online access to our county’s best local news source, but you’ll also be helping out a great cause. (Don’t forget you have to mention me when signing up!)

The offers “sunset” (and our little competition ends) on March 31, so call our Circulation Department at 334-9086 to get started. Or, you can email me at mstagnaro@evesun.com and I’ll help make that connection for you.

Happy 120th Anniversary to the Evening Sun!

Here’s to 120 more!

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.