Archive for the 'Evening Sun Headlines' Category

Time for some ‘happy’

Thursday, September 25th, 2014
Ashley Babbitt

I feel as though a little bit of happy is in order.
Nearly the past month of my life has been consumed by the murder trial of Ganesh R. Ramsaran who was found guilty Tuesday (Perhaps, if time permits, I’ll write an opinion piece regarding it). This morning, on my way to work, I passed Chenango County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicles heading north on Route 12. I found out ten minutes later, a deceased woman was located in Sherburne. Folks I went to high school with appear in the police blotter or in other areas of the paper on drug charges rather often.
So, like I said, I feel as though a little bit of happy is in order.
My crazy stubborn cat — who had snuck outside and was missing for approximately 27 days — has finally returned home. Six-year-old Jack is back to his usual self, even more-so than he was before bolting out the door.
Jack’s second favorite past-time? Napping on the sports section of the paper. After my husband reads it, it’s known that it now belongs to Jack. He’ll examine it, walk all over it, then take a snooze. He’ll wake up, scratch it to shreds (sorry, Pat), and then lay back down.
Daily routine. It makes me happy.
One of my closest friends has moved back to New York after spending some years out in Seattle. Her son is six now, which is hard to believe. Having them home brings a little spunk into my life, and spunk is always welcomed.
I have a best friend who is five, and she just started kindergarten. She gave me a bracelet yesterday that she had made, and after handing it to me she said, “I know those are your favorite colors, so it’s for you.” I wore it all night, and it’s next to me now as I type this.
My husband is supportive, hilarious, and just my absolute favorite. When I wake up each morning, the coffee is already made. If you know me as a person at all, coffee is essential in order for me to be a human that has any business being in public.
I have a home in the middle of nowhere filled with five males: four pets and the fella. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The support system I have in general is fantastic. Family, friends, strangers … you name it.
When my cat was missing, I had total strangers that follow me on Twitter asking if he had returned home yet. Emails came to my work account with queries as to whether or not certain located cats were my Jack-A-Roo. Those sentiments were absolutely appreciated.
A complete stranger came up to me this morning to tell me how happy he was because the sun was shining. I agreed, and we spoke for a few minutes about how we’re happier with our coffee black … without a shred of that fake pumpkin stuff.
I have four types of ice cream in my freezer. That makes me ridiculously happy.
Often times I’m told I don’t smile enough — sometimes my face just doesn’t smile. I can’t think of the last time I wasn’t happy.
Regardless, I figured with everything that’s transpired — even today alone — I would share some of my happy.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Sept. 25, 2014

Thursday, September 25th, 2014
Patrick Newell

So I guess my plug of an athlete is not the kiss of death for an athlete’s upcoming game. Sherburne-Earlville’s Matt Hull, touted in last week’s blog, rushed for over 100 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 56-6 victory over Sauquoit Valley. The Marauders were the 13th-ranked Class C team in the state in a poll released by the New York Sports Writers Association last week. In the Sept. 24 release, the Marauders moved up a spot to number 12, while this week’s opponent, Utica Notre Dame, is ranked number eight.

Unadilla Valley’s football team is 0-3 overall, but two of its three losses have come to unbeaten Class D state-ranked teams. The Storm lost on the last play of the game to number 15 Moravia, 24-18, and last week, UV gave up a late touchdown to number eight-ranked Walton in a 36-32 defeat. Both results came as a result of big-play passing, and a nonexistent running game. UV looks to break into the win column this week against fellow winless club, Sidney.

High school tennis is not known as one of the marquee sports, but in terms of sheer consistency and contending for division and sectional championships each year, Norwich is among the best. For about as long as I’ve worked at the newspaper, NHS head coach John Stewart has produced teams with winning records, and nearly every year he has a doubles team in the mix for a bid at the state qualifier. Wednesday, Norwich won its eighth straight match to improve to 9-1, and is just about assured of another division title. Hat’s off to the Tornado girls, who will gain entry into the STAC team tournament next month.

Shifting away from sports for a moment and to the recently-completed murder trial of Ganesh Remy Ramsaran. I knew the defendant for many years prior to his arrest and eventual conviction of second-degree murder. The following link is a summary of my recollections from those interactions: http://patricklnewell.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/remy-ramsaran-recollections-my-3-12-year-former-friendship-with-a-convicted-murderer/

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Sept. 15, 2014

Monday, September 15th, 2014
Patrick Newell

At the Sherburne-Earlville home football game last Friday, I asked assistant coach Ed Holmquist, “Did Matt Hull play last year?”
“Yeah. He was a skinny kid last year who worked really hard in the weight room in the offseason,” Holmquist said.
Hull’s name was not mentioned in my preseason interview with head coach Mike Jasper, and not a word was mentioned about Hull in the Fall Sports Preview feature article on the Marauders.
Assuming Hull stays healthy, I’ll have some space reserved for the sophomore in next year’s article.
“Matt Hull was amazing,” Jasper said after a 40-21 victory over General Brown.
Hull did a little bit of everything running for the team’s first first down, catching a TD pass, and he returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. His running style is ideal for kickoffs as he launches himself forward with no lateral movement. He may make a simple cut left or right, but he’s north and south all the way. Holmquist, who calls the offensive plays said Hull has excellent running form that complements his speed. “He squares his pads up and he runs low,” the S-E coach said.
We already knew the Marauders had offensive weapons in quarterback Cody Marango, running backs Brodie Roebuck and Brady Sopchak, and receivers Ben Khoury along with tight end Gavin Giroux. Hull gives the opposing teams one more headache to consider when defending the Marauders’ offense.
Through two games, Hull has two rushing TDs, a receiving TD, a special teams return TD, and he drew a key defensive pass interference penalty in the second half against General Brown that led to another touchdown.

I don’t think I’ve ever covered a football game where one player accounted for a higher percentage of his team’s offense (assuming the team gained at least 150 total yards) than Mike Oralls did last week. The Norwich senior ran for 172 yards and Norwich finished with 186 total yards (all rushing).That figures to 92.4 percent of NHS’s total yards. Unfortunately, Oralls’ big day came in a 20-12 loss.

I had to go back to the Fall Sports Preview to verify what Bainbridge-Guilford boys’ soccer coach Pete Feltham said about his team’s prospects this season. I’ve worked with Pete for over a decade, and at his brashest, he is cautiously optimistic, and effusively complimentary of his opponents. Feltham always gives his opponent due respect, but I did elicit some information from our preseason interview that made me believe he was playing possum. Off a .500 team from last year he had eight returning starters. The Bobcats were also successful in putting goals on the board, and have taken it to another level this season. Entering Monday night’s home game against Norwich, B-G’s record was 4-0, the first time that has occurred in my nearly two decades covering Bobcats soccer. Said Feltham in the preseason interview: “It would be nice to give the top teams in the league a challenge.”
Pete, you are.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

Ashley, age 12

Thursday, September 11th, 2014
Ashley Babbitt

I have been writing murder trial stories in each paper since Sept. 2, I believe. I’ve also been doing my regular duties of building the pages for the following day’s paper, trying to update “30 seconds” as much as possible, and respond to emails as efficiently as time permits. Also, my cat has been MIA for more than two weeks now.
Regardless of all that, I decided today would be an appropriate day to blog.
What follows is what I remember from this day, at age 12.
I’m in the second to last seat in the second row closer to the door near the exit of Mrs. Meek’s math class. It’s business as usual. She’s writing notes on the projector, and I’m writing them down. With math, I was rather good at memorizing for the test and then letting it leave my mind. One look over my notes the morning before a test and I was golden. Did I learn anything in that class that day? Probably not.
Next up was Mr. Emerson’s English class. We were watching a movie that was based on a book we had just finished reading. Can’t recall what it was. Of Mice and Men pops into my head, but I can’t be sure. Just before that class was over — which was my class right before lunch — the teacher’s phone rang. After hanging up and just as the bell was ringing, he had told us all that the Twin Towers had fallen down. I remember someone asking, “The Tri Towers?!” and he clarified the location was New York City. We left class and went to lunch.
A boy in the lunch line was yelling that we were going to be bombed next. Some folks in line cried.
I remember wanting to know what was going on. I overheard employees of the school talking about making sure no TVs were on. I was 12, the last thing I wanted was to be shielded from “reality.”
Then after lunch I finally made it to Mr. Telesky’s social studies class. You know what he did? He turned on the TV, and said, “Watch. And ask away.”
He explained some things and people asked questions. He told us that what happened that morning —while I was taking notes in a math class that I’ll never remember — would never be forgotten. That it’d be in history books when we became adults.
I remember going home from school and watching it on TV with my sister. Then my mother came home from work and we watched together. I remember asking if the smoke would make it all the way to Norwich.
I don’t recall if it was that same day or perhaps in the days following, but I remember expressing that I didn’t think any people who haven’t done anything wrong should die. I still believe that.
So many people have lost their lives as a result of the events of that day. It makes my heart heavy.
Today I realize that a five-year-old boy on Sept. 11, 2001 is now old enough to fight and die in wars that began as a result of what took place that morning.
I wonder if that boy remembers where he was. I have memories of going to Disney World at the age of five, so I really wonder what a small child thinks of the events from 9/11/01, if s/he remembers.
Anyway, back to Ashley, age 25.
To anyone who lost a family member or friend on Sept. 11, 2001, I am sorry. To anyone who has lost a loved one in combat in a war the United States is involved in, I am sorry. To anyone innocent who has been killed, I am sorry. To the family members of veterans who have taken their own lives after returning from combat, my thoughts are with you.
My heart is just all-around heavy today.

A Verge

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Matt White

The cool-air days of Autumn are slowly beginning to weave their way into the forecast as the long, hot days of summer become indelibly out numbered. This is this time of year when throughout my life I find myself in concious awe of the speed of life have looked back upon the summer that was in reflection.
Fall is definitely my favorite season. The fruits of our labor are easily measured, the kids are returning to school and with any luck; the earth’s bounty is full and ripe for harvest in a short time to come.
But not yet.
The day that it all really starts to sink in is always the same for me – and it’s rapidly approaching. For me, the day after the Chenango Blues Fest wraps up is that threshold; the end of yet another summer.
Over the past 22 years, we as a community have been blessed with a special little thing that many of us hold dear and close to our hearts. We know somewhere deep inside that with the exit stage left of the final act, life will assuredly return to “normal.”
I know that I’m not the only one. I once thought that I was the only one who felt that way, but as I’ve grown older and talked to others who’ve waxed nostalgic about out beloved hometown hoedown, it becomes clear that many of my friends and friends that have become family share the same sentiment.
I remember going to my first Blues fest in 1995 when the festival was all of three years of age, I was barely 14.
At the time I had no idea who Lucky Peterson and Kenny Neal were, but once exposed to their brand of blues – Especially Neals ridiculously smooth telecaster work – I was on the hook.
That show enlightened me to an entire genre of music and culture I’d never heard.
I remember a short time later having the opportunity to see B.B. King very up close at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY as part of a school trip – planned very last minute. I sat with life long buddy James Brady on the bus ride up. I remember the two of us thinking aloud “We’re in the same room with a Legend” as we ogled over his signature story-laden adventures put to sweet, sweet guitar riffs once at the show.
I was nearly booted out for taking photographs at the no-flash show. Those were the days.
For me, that’s the magical power that music possesses. For whatever reason, – especially in the Fall – I’m able to be transported back 10, 15 or 20 years to a precise moment; and what more is life than a series of intertwined moments?

Summer’s still here for the time being. Lets get out there and make some moments this weekend.

A little farewell

Friday, August 8th, 2014
Matt White

Every once in a while we’re blessed with the opportunity to meet someone destined for bigger and brighter things. Usually, you’re instantly aware that these people are special and are meant for making forward progress, not to linger. If you are fortunate enough, you might end up sharing a desk and working next to them for a period, and have the joy of getting to know their intricate and kind personalty. This is one of the few genuine joys of the human condition.
My short-time co-worker and now friend Samantha Gillette is one of those few people.
What Sam lacked in experience only due to her age she possessed tenfold in her unequivocal tenacity to learn, work ethic and love of the profession that is taking her to grad school.
I learned from Sam that the world isn’t going to hell in a hand basket after all. She proved that there is indeed hope for the generations that follow behind us, and her indiscriminate objectivity is most likely her most powerful merit.
Amid our often vivacious morning staff meetings, on more than one occasion we (those of us hardened by life’s lessons) jokingly referred to the novelty Sam’s ambition by mouthing “Her spirit hasn’t been broken yet;” but that statement obviously doesn’t apply. I don’t believe that Sam’s sprit can ever be truly broken; she is as strong as she is sincere – requisites most professional writers hone over leather in time, essentials she has already mastered.
Sam is an adept writer and will, without a doubt, make an excellent journalist.
I’m certain that everyone here in the office that had the chance to read and write along side Sam will remember the good times and challenging days we spent over our little publication when we come across her name in the byline of one of the “big ones” or in the international news.
Congratulations on your advancement. Keep doing good things. Keep in touch.

Moments of impact

Monday, July 28th, 2014
Sami Gillette

There are moments that one forgets a second later, moments that evoke a smile or crease the brow in frustration, moments that alter one’s mood throughout the week before they flit away into the foggy realm of forgetting. Moments that define a relationship, turning someone from stranger to friend or lover to enemy. But once in a while there are moments that change everything.

These moments must be the big milestones, right? The universal ones like birth, death, graduation, a proposal, marriage, divorce, sickness. These are milestones that unite everyone in a shared experience.

While these are powerful occurrences, the small moments leading up and surrounding them can be even more important, even more memorable.

What made him kiss her the first time? How many casual conversations did they have before they shared their deepest, darkest secret?

What led up to that fight? What made him remember that moment with his son more than all the others? What last words did she say that made it impossible to forgive her?

Such moments can result in incredible enlightenment. Incredible pain. Incredible happiness. Or a once in a lifetime connection.

It’s true that humans are fallible. Horrendously so. Sometimes these moments can be so painful that one hopes to get high on alcohol, drugs, sex, risky behavior. Anything to escape.

But sometimes there are those moments that are unbelievably perfect, better than a scripted Hollywood scene with all of the lighting and background sound.

These are the moments – good and bad – that change people forever. Careers, partnerships, having or not having children, forgiveness, anger, being overcome by a situation or choosing to move past it. All of these occurrences can be broken into moment(s). And this has been the case since the beginning of the first human experience.

What is frightening is that people’s ability to experience these moments is changing. Television, technology, social media, the immediacy of the internet – all of these factors have benefitted society. But there is also a cost. People are less connected to the here and now. Or if they are present, they are less able to communicate effectively. We, as a culture, have become increasingly adept at participating in a moment without fully experiencing or connecting to it.

It seems we are in a world where nothing is shocking. People are desensitized to the point that they are no longer as caring towards each other. We are in danger of becoming automatons in a world that could not care less… as long as the right price tag is attached.

Said Henry David Thoreau, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”

Instead of tuning out, one needs to relearn how to experience. Feel the happiness, the pain, the grief, the hilarity. Whatever it is. Experience it. It may be difficult to claim every moment, but it’s far better to be an agent in one’s own life than to be a passive viewer.

Thank goodness for meaningless distractions

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Shawn Magrath

Anyone who’s been watching the news lately knows the world’s on edge. Frankly, I’m starting to lose track of who’s at war with who. In Iraq, ISIS continues to battle Iraqi forces. There’s no end in sight to the civil war in Syria. Then, of course, there are the growing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine; and violence between Hamas and the Israeli government in the Middle East. I’ll point out that this list is exclusive to global conflicts currently in the mainstream media and doesn’t include the dozens of other countries going toe to toe in other parts of the world.

With so much happening at once, it’s no wonder many people aren’t sure where to stand when it comes to international issues. Which brings me to the pressing question that’s on everyone’s mind: Was Jamie Dornan the right choice for the lead in “50 Shades of Grey?”

Thank goodness for meaningless distractions.

Locally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the continuing negotiations between the county and the CSEA labor union. For those who don’t know, many county employees have gone without a contract since their last contract expired in December. The workers’ union voted down a proposed deal earlier this month and it’s likely to vote again as soon as possible.

True, I think it’s unfair that county employees are working without a labor deal. Even public employees deserve a few more bread crumbs thrown their way once in a while. But what I detest is pay raises for all county employees across the board. Maybe it’s the private sector employee in me saying this, but shouldn’t raises be determined on individual performance, not by union affiliation? If the employee who darts pencils in the ceiling above his cubicle gets a raise, what’s it say for the one who goes in early and stays late?

I also think the demand for work is something to consider (speaking to the ’30 Seconds’ crowd). I don’t doubt the work load born by most governmental departments has grown significantly in recent years, thanks largely to attrition in most cases. At the same time, I’m skeptical that the amount of work has steadily and evenly increased in each department. So again, I personally can’t justify the same percent pay increase for all employees.

Admittedly, my understanding of negotiations between CSEA (or any labor union) and the county is pretty narrow, especially since most discussions happen behind the closed doors of executive session. But that’s the beauty of employee confidentiality, I guess. And because there are two strongly opinionated sides in this fight, I know there’s a lot to consider.

At the state level, it’s worth mentioning Governor Andrew Cuomo’s latest debacle. As some might remember, Cuomo ran is campaign on a promise to clean up Albany in 2010. Since then, he created an ethics committee to investigate corruption among state legislators. This week, it was revealed that the committee he had created couldn’t investigate Cuomo or certain organizations to which he had ties. Cuomo disbanded the commission before it went any further.

I liken this scenario to someone being run over by their own car…

Reviving an old golf column

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Patrick Newell

This week we are reviving an old column, one in which I play golf at a local or regional course – along side a willing partner – and submit a review of the course, while also sharing any humorous happenings during our excursion. For years, I teamed up with the late Bob McNitt, who had a lifetime of golf experiences, and stories to share from just about every course we played. Bob was a consummate raconteur who always provided plenty of fuel for the story. This year, one of my buddies and golf partners, Mike McCormack, has agreed to step in and offer his insights from our day on the links. Mike is not a native of Chenango County, but he is no less entertaining than Bob. Since I just recently returned to the newspaper and fall sports are just around the corner, we will likely have about three or four golf columns this year before resuming the feature full-time next year. Our first stop: Afton Golf Course.

Anyone enjoy trivia? I sure do, especially of the sports variety. As a matter of fact – and my wife Aida will attest – I store hundreds of seemingly pointless and meaningless tidbits of sports information that are just waiting to one day surface. I’m sure there are plenty of other people just as interested in sports factoids, and thrice weekly, I will supplement the sports section with a trivia question. Yes, the answer is easily found with a quick Internet search, but the idea is to test one’s sports knowledge. I will delve into all sports topics, and provide the answer on an inside sports page. The goal is to publish trivia questions Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week (assuming we have enough space). If I receive positive feedback through the first month, I’ll continue the feature throughout the year.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

Food plus Patrick Swayze = girls’ night in

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
Sami Gillette

Having money to spend and going somewhere opulent to spend it definitely has an appeal. Yet, often I’ve found that being creative and spending less money in the pursuit of fun can be much more rewarding. That’s what happened this weekend.

My friend Mary Rose and I wanted to meet up in Syracuse, where she resides. At first we discussed meeting at a restaurant. Normally I would love to join her for a nice dinner and a glass of wine with all of the appropriate ambiance. But together we have very expensive tastes, which I unfortunately can’t afford.

So, after relaying my concern about the cost she suggested we have a girls’ night in at her place.
That was by far the best decision.

We gorged ourselves on a variety of homemade, fabulous food and drinks. There were two different types of cheeses to go with the baguette I brought – one of which Mary Rose had me try with fig jam. It was a great blend of sour and sweet and the flavors melded beautifully.

I had also brought raspberries, pineapple and sliced tomato to serve as an appetizer with the bread and cheese. Mary Rose had made a fresh zucchini salad, which was a new experience for me. She had sliced the zucchini paper-thin and length-wise. She tossed the vegetables with a homemade vinaigrette, prosciutto and parmesan cheese.

“If this isn’t good, I’m going to be mad!” she laughingly said. She had found the recipe in a magazine earlier that day and was eager to try it. Mary Rose had no reason to be upset – the salad was refreshing and as vibrant on the tongue as it was on the eyes. I couldn’t help but go back for seconds.

To go with the salad she had made roasted chicken breasts and thighs that were nicely seasoned and reminded me of the barbecue chicken that the fire department always makes during the summer.

In keeping with the freshness and lightness of the meal, she also made fresh blueberry lemonade mixed with top shelf vodka.

By the end of the meal I was content and felt altogether spoiled. What made it even better was watching the movie “Dirty Dancing,” (1987) starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Mary Rose had never seen it before and seemed to really enjoy it.

I wasn’t surprised that she was a fan. Who doesn’t love a leather wearing, tough guy who is also an expert, elegant dancer? She didn’t understand the Swayze obsession… until she did.

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” may not be the most significant line in the late 80′s, but it was certainly the best way to end a great girls’ night in.