Archive for the 'Evening Sun Headlines' Category

I love March

Friday, March 21st, 2014
Shawn Magrath

Spring, the season of life. Tree buds, bright flowers… and a possible nor’easter making its way into the area as early as Tuesday. Dreams do come true.

A tip of the hat to the Sherburne-Earlville Parent Advocate Group for Thursday’s forum hosted at the S-E High School. The meeting served as an excellent resource for parents and students who are muddled by the the contested education reform known as the Common Core. Speaking as someone who believes the Common Core is the worst things to happen to public education since candy bar fundraisers (which I’m typically guilted into), I feel like I can get behind the group and its efforts to inform parents about their children’s options when it comes to high-stakes testing. On the other hand, there’s two sides to every story. In that respect, it’s only appropriate to read what the New York State Board of Regents has to say and make your own judgments.

Additional congratulations to newly dubbed Evening Sun sports editor Shaun Savarese. With Pat Newell’s final farewell last Friday, Shaun finished out his first week flying solo on the job, and did so free of bitter phone calls, hate mail, or any threat of physical harm by readers. Off to a promising start, indeed.

I should also offer a personal apology to Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting, who, for reasons unbeknownst even to myself, I identified in a recent article as “Richard” Cutting (though in my defense, I can recall a professor Richard Cutting from my college days). Just another side affect of switching to auto-pilot at work. On the up side, at least I made the coffee right that day…

Duke’s out already. And just like that, the otherwise tedious task of scoring entries in our March Mania Contest becomes a simpler process. I love March.

I almost got in your car, Pat

Thursday, March 13th, 2014
Ashley Biviano

I overheard Pat this morning talking about basketball. NBA vs. college. I said from my office, “I like the Mavericks.” I don’t watch sports. I have favorite teams for arbitrary reasons. My father lives in Fort Worth, so bam … Mavericks. Football, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs. But that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, Pat asked if I could name one player from the Mavericks. I could. Dirk. I also knew Jason Terry used to play for them. That’s as far as we went with that.
I didn’t have the pleasure of working with Pat for 18 years. When he started as Sports Editor I was in third grade, probably. I never played sports in school, so he never covered me. I played the cello and took dance classes.
I’ve worked with Pat since April. I remember the Post-it notes I wrote myself my first week with various reminders of writing in AP style. That Friday, I got an email from Pat that started with, “Hi Ashley, I noticed your Post-its, I hope you don’t mind me offering you a few more tips.” I didn’t mind at all. I still have the email.
Pat knows sports. He knows writing. And he knows numbers. When I need quick math, he’s my go-to guy.
He had the most interesting work area I’ve seen. Photos, newspapers, artwork, even a pillow. Dedicated to his job, no doubt about it.
If I needed help, Pat was my person. If he didn’t know how to assist, he knew an employee who could. Mind you, while there are only four of us in The Evening Sun building, there are other Snyder Communications employees that play roles, and Pat has worked with them throughout the years.
I know I’ve written before about how I’ll miss being able to hear him tapping to whatever music he is listening to each morning as he designs his pages. But I really will. I’ll miss walking out of my office to the spot where his wall is lower so I don’t have to stand on my tip-toes to talk to him about whatever-it-is we’re chatting about.
18 years. It’s like he’s all grown up and going off to college. But instead of college he’s off on a four-day road trip to New Mexico to start a brand new adventure.
I may or may not have gotten slightly emotional about his departure. I’m not tellin’.
Shaun Savarese will assume the role of Sports Writer. Pat has taken him under his wing the last couple weeks, and he’s getting the hang of things. I’m looking forward to working with him.
It’s not really my style to say it out loud, but … I’ll miss you, Pat. Best of luck, and keep in touch. I’ll keep an eye on your tree.
Also, I’m sorry I almost got in your car 27 times because ours are almost the same color.
…I don’t know if I ever told you about that.

Home is where the heart is

Monday, March 10th, 2014
Shawn Magrath

The winter sports season came to a sorrowful end on Saturday when the Norwich boys’ basketball team suffered their first loss of the year to the Westhill Warriors. As the season ends, so too does Pat Newell’s 17-plus-year tenure with The Evening Sun. As most readers already know, Pat is getting ready to ride off into the sunset, which happens to be over Albuquerque. Pat’s leaving behind a solid standing at the newspaper, a notable reputation in the Chenango County sports scene, and a cluttered cubicle with year’s worth of old sports notes, contacts, newspapers, and I’m guessing a former reporter who got buried underneath it all.

While Pat will certainly be missed by staff and readers alike, his replacement, Shaun Savarese, is just settling in. Shaun brings a fresh new perspective to The Evening Sun. With a background in sports broadcasting and an eagerness to jump into his new role as the go-to sports guy in Chenango County, Shaun’s off to a good start and in time (precisely 17 years) he will fill Pat’s shoes nicely.

For the sake of news, I should mention the number of open murder cases in Chenango County dropped from four to three last Friday, after Geneia Rood pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Rood was accused last fall of causing the death of an infant after giving the baby alcohol while she was babysitting. Over the week, I’ve heard it said several times that four open murder cases sets a new precedent in the county – not exactly the kind of “overachieving” status we should shoot for. Nevertheless, this is our new reality. To the people who have said that Chenango County has lost touch with its longstanding peaceful community reputation, I acquiesce. I love Chenango County; but it has done an about face in the last decade, with increasing drug problems, poverty, felony offenses, and (my biggest pet-peeve) a broad misunderstanding of how all these things are intertwined. But what can I say, home is where the heart is…

On the cheerier side of things, the American Civil War Wax Museum in Gettysburg, Pa. Is set to auction off a life-sized animatronic Abe Lincoln to raise money after completing a recent renovation… and evidently, to clear out its surplus Abe Lincolns. While the museum says the statue is the perfect addition to a collector’s smorgasbord of Civil War memorabilia, we at The Evening Sun envision a much more practical purpose. Lincoln would be the perfect employee to enforce the “employees only” sign on the front door. He’s tall, intimidating, works for free, and won’t argue. We can’t ask for a better fit.

Thank you 21st century technology

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
Patrick Newell

I love wrestling, and to this day, I wonder why I didn’t compete on the Norwich High School wrestling team. I played junior varsity basketball for the Purple Tornado, but I knew in seventh and eighth grade that accolades were not coming my way on the hardwood floor.
Post high school I have heard more than a few times: “Did you wrestle in high school?”
“No.”
“Well, you would have been pretty good.”
“Thanks for telling me that 25 years too late.”
From a professional – and personal – standpoint, it crushed me when I had to decide what event I would cover Saturday, March 1. In Binghamton, Norwich was playing in back-to-back Section IV basketball championship games. In Albany at the Times Union Arena, the New York State High School Wrestling Championships were being held.
In the end, I chose the basketball games because I like dealing in certainties.
Driving to Albany early Saturday morning, there was no guarantee any of the local wrestlers would advance to the evening’s finals. But, I did have an ace in the hole: 21st century technology, and a couple of close friends giving me updates.
If this was 1997, I would have never had the details that appeared in Monday’s sports section.
While covering the basketball games, I received text messages from my longtime buddies, John Klockowski and Charlie McMullen. Both were standout wrestlers during their high school days, and each remains passionate about the sport.
Time Warner Sports aired the state finals, and as events transpired, JK sent me messages. I had period by period updates of Tristan Rifanburg’s 7-1 state finals win over Laken Cook, and two weight classes later, received a summary of Frankie Garcia’s state title victory. I remember smiling when Klock gave me a second-period update on Garcia: “Garcia is up 4-0 with two tilts in the second.”
Thank you to my friends, thank you to the inventor of text messaging, and thank you Time Warner for airing the state championships.

Show me some love and follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Like watching paint dry. again.

Friday, February 28th, 2014
Matt White

Buying a new (or new to you) home can be one of the most exciting and downright frightening endeavors on God’s green earth, and contrary to so many things in life; the excitement never diminishes no matter how many times you schlep through the tedious process of dealing with bankers, lawyers and more lawyers.
There’s something bittersweet-romantic and refreshing about going through the process again, especially if you’re going through it with someone new – who’s never experienced the process for themselves.
In the case of my girlfriend, Rachel and myself, I have caught myself groaning at some of the things I dislike about the process of a new real estate acquisition and – just in time – I cut it off and turn it into a positive, encouraging remark… see?, men can be trained.
As a more considerate and understanding version of my younger self, I try to be a bit more tactful in my responses. It’s easy for someone who has a history and past such as I do to bemoan things that seem like drudgery, annoying or just plain unbearable.
But I realize that in acting in such a manner, I take something away from Rachel, who is still wearing the rose-colored glasses of being a first-time homebuyer/owner. That little bit of excitement would be tarnished, never to be regained.
I think that is it safe to say that it wound be selfish and unkind of me to – and in essence foolish – take that away from her… So I do my best to keep it to myself.
This weekend, Paint… lots and lots of painting and sanding of hardwood floors punctuated with blisters, splinters and cuts.
My nose will be plugged with sawdust, my hands will crack through the desiccant powers of drywall compound, my lungs full-up with who-knows-what.
But I will not complain. I’ll keep my head down and and smile and put on my dream-face with my arm around Rachel as we get ahead of ourselves even further.
It’s going to be a GREAT weekend!

Cheers!

http://http://instagram.com/p/k-GuTDkKpk/#

The harder you try, the worse it gets

Friday, February 21st, 2014
Shawn Magrath

They call it the law of reversed effect: The harder you try, the worse it gets.

I’m finding the same holds true when it comes to public education. There have been several stories concerning education that made headlines this month that caught my attention, beginning with last week’s proposal by the New York Board of Regents to slow down a full-scale implementation of the hotly contested Common Core learning standards. The proposal also has backing from countless parents and teachers statewide, and legislators who say it was too much, too fast. I couldn’t agree more.

Then there was this week’s pitch from Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide financing for prisoners to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree during their sentence. It’s a deplorable concept in my opinion as it’s not only unfair for the millions of people who have made all the right decisions just to find themselves fighting student loans (people like myself); but also because a college degree held by a former inmate is as useless as a fish with a bicycle. As if a degree will make a convicted felon any more employable. Give me a break. I’m guessing a fancy degree from “RIT” loses some caliber when it comes from Rikers Island Tech.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against educating prisoners. I’m against paying for student tuition for them. Instead of paying their college fees, how about throwing a little money my way so I can pay off my student loans? At least I’m a good investment.

Lastly, I recently read an article from NYSUT United that says child hunger is a growing concern statewide because it’s also affecting students’ behavior and performance in the classroom. One million children in the Empire State go to bed hungry, and those numbers are only increasing thanks in part to a recent $300 million-plus cut to the federal food stamps program. For many kids, this means the only meal they get comes from the school cafeteria, and that makes it difficult for schools to close even when it snows two feet overnight. If ever there’s a downer of a story in education, this is it.

It’s taken our country more than 300 years to get public education where it is today. And it always seems that no matter what efforts are made to enhance it, there’s always a bigger obstacle to overcome. It’s times like this that one of my favorite Homer Simpson quotes comes to mind: “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

Ever and again, any port in the storm can be home.

Friday, January 31st, 2014
Matt White

Dear diary, it’s been five weeks since my last confession. A lot has changed – some for the good, some for the not so great – but nonetheless my group of exemplary cohorts (er, co-workers) and I have weathered through a seemingly treacherous storm amidst a raging sea. If I were to assign a song to the experience that was my first “Progress Chenango,” I would steal a line from a budding Neil Young who sang: “Sailing hardships through broken harbors out on the waves in the night; still a searcher must ride the darkness racing alone in his fright. Tell me why.”
Our ship’s fearless captain selflessly maneuvered the beast to the other side, a battle that I could only liken to driving a ’72 El Dorado with balding middle-aged tires and loose steering down a winding Chenango County back road. Sure, it had it’s moments filled with poise and false sense of security, but for the most part our brilliant boffin was wrestling her sense of dignity with her unwavering ethic-steeped determination.
I’m looking forward to getting back into having time to focus on writing opinion pieces, blogs and more in-depth daily news reporting, all of which – admittedly and with regret – were taxed when juggled with the added workload leading up to the publication of the ten extra papers.
During my absence from blogosphere, A woman I considered to be my mother passed away. Now, I’m not one to bear my soul over loss or let my personal life interfere with my work; but a series of events transpired shortly before her death that has changed my life.
Long ago – shortly after my father passed away – I moved out of the area, married and established my life elsewhere. I all but abandoned my family, losing touch with my siblings, aunts/uncles.
The significance of this is that I had come from a very tight-knit, closely related family… we were raised on a farm in White Store (a hamlet just over the hill between route eight and Norwich) where my cousins and I spent every season of our youthful years together. My cousins were effectively my siblings – and I respected my aunts and uncles with same regard as my parents.
After the passing of my grandparents and father in my teens, moving off the farm and the inevitable passage of time we went our separate ways and became disassociated.
In typical fashion- the ebb and flow of life returned me back to the Norwich area a divorced man with six children searching for his roots.
Last fall, as I started work here at The Evening Sun, I received word that Lanie (mom) was suffering from a rare form of oral cancer and that a benefit had been scheduled to assist in defraying the cost of travel expenses to and from chemotherapy treatments.
I felt compelled to attend, if not only to pay my respect the woman who was strong enough to step forward and raise a hellish younger version of myself in the absence of my biological mother who stepped out when I was all of two years of age.
When I arrived at the venue, I quickly became flush with an uncomfortable fear of scrutiny. I felt what I thought was the disapproving eyes of folks I hadn’t spoken a word to in more than a decade fall upon me. I scanned the room, clawing for a familiar face to comfort me – to which the results were nil.
I had trouble remembering the names of my own family whom played a tremendous role in shaping me into the person I am today.
In my confusion, I failed to notice Jeanine – my older cousin whom I had the strongest relationship with as a child – as she approached me and greeted me with the biggest smile and best feeling embrace that I had encountered in quite some time.
In a matter of two minutes we shed nearly twelve years of age and lost time with minimal diction. I was able to find that one person I’d least expected but needed the most. We laughed and talked, poked fun of one another – I commented “Neenee” on how good she looked, and she was more than willing to let me know that I was shaping up quite like my dad – her favorite uncle Dennis.
Lanie wasn’t feeling all that great and had all of her teeth extracted the day prior inpreperatin of a procedure, so by the time I had arrived at the venue my stepsister Andrea had taken her home. As the evening concluded and we all pitched in to clean up the Sherburne American Legion, I made plans with Andrea to get up to see mom as she was living adjacent to her.
Meanwhile, Thanksgiving and then Christmas had come and gone – Jeanine and I had exchanged phone numbers and had begun the process of re-connecting. My girlfriend Rachel and I had made a few trips to Jeanine and her husband Jason’s cabin on Hatch Lake and acquainted the kids to one another.
It felt good answering my niece’s and nephew’s questions of “will you be coming to see us more often” with a re-affirming “yes.”
Shortly after New Years I learned that Laine had died. She became ill and was admitted to the hospital where her unexpected prognosis of weeks to live was trumped only by her unexpected death the next morning.
My heart sank. I never made it up to see her. Once again, life had become the priority and I would never see her again.
I took a good look at the situation and came to what I consider an obligatory catharsis.
Had it not been for the demise of my mom, I most likely would have spent God knows however many more years away from my past; away from the family I wanted to be a part of. In essence, it took the tragedy of loosing one of the most influential people in my life to bring me back to the ones that I love and missed all along.
Without knowing it, Laine planted the seed for the future of my family. I am lucky, humbled and grateful for such a great gift. I am doing my best to nurture this freshly planted seedling along.

Thanks, Mom.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Patrick Newell

Norwich’s boys basketball team is justifiably gaining notice in the state rankings, and recently ascended to the number seven spot in the New York State Sportwriters Association’s Class B poll., As the only unbeaten team left in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference, Norwich enters each game with a target on its back, said head coach Tom Collier. “We’re getting everyone’s best game; we’re their Super Bowl,” Collier said following last Thursday’s victory over Susquehanna Valley. The community has taken notice, too, and attendance numbers are on the rise at the pared-down Norwich High School gymnasium. A few years ago, the bleachers were updated to meet building code regulations, and the result was a loss of about 33 percent of the total capacity. It’s fair to say the maximum seating was exceeded Tuesday, Jan. 21 when Norwich entertained longtime rival Oneonta. Every bleacher seat was taken, and it was standing-room-only at each exit. It won’t be long before Norwich will need to set up a closed circuit viewing to accommodate the additional patrons. Norwich loves a winner, and the dominant start to the 2013-2014 season is rekindling some memories of the state championship teams of 1993 and 1994. While this year’s team is not facing the likes of Binghamton, Ithaca, Vestal, and Union-Endicott (maybe in the STAC tournament), similar to the state title teams, the manner in which the Tornado are winning is nearly identical. The 1993 team that went 29-0 averaged well over 70 points per game, and had a victory margin of about 23 points per game. This year’s NHS club is giving up less points per game than the ’93 team, but it, too, is winning by 23 points a game. In 13 Norwich wins this season, only two have been decided by less than 10 points – one against Section IV opposition.

No love for Sherburne-Earlville?
Sherburne-Earlville’s girls have battled injuries, illness, and other circumstances that have kept one or two starters out of the lineup multiple times since the turn of the calendar. Still, the Marauders have extended their unbeaten winning streak to 15 games after two more wins. The pollsters who compile the high school state rankings remain unimpressed as S-E remains in the 19 spot in the latest Class B iteration, released Jan. 31. S-E entered the rankings several weeks ago, but have barely moved in the standings. Still, S-E is on the verge of surpassing the school’s single-season victory record of 17. Just think, as recently as 2006, the Marauders had not compiled a single winning season in Section III or in the Susquenango Association in Section IV. Now, winning seasons are the norm as are division championships in the Center State Conference.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Most successful Chenango County teams in recent years

Friday, January 24th, 2014
Patrick Newell

My recall of teams, events, and players is not quite what it used to be. Unlike my early mentor, Tom Schwan, I do not have binders upon binders detailing every team ‘s record from the past 19 years. I have a few of Tom’s old records on hand, and I often use them for reference when looking back at the 1970s and 1980s. Bowing to my long-term memory deficiency, I have compiled a list of the most successful teams from the past six or seven years. These respective teams may not have been the best team in Chenango County that particular year in that particular sport, but they certainly accomplished the most.

Baseball (Oxford, 2007)
Oxford won a sectional championship, beat Cooperstown in the state regional finals down in Endicott before losing in the state semifinals.

Softball (Greene, 2012)
Riding the pitching of senior Rebecca Hanrahan, the Trojans had the school’s best softball season in school history winning a Class C championship and advancing to the state title game where they ultimately fell on victory shy of a state championship.

Girls’ Basketball (Greene, 2008-2009)
It was quite a debut season for head coach Dave Gorton, who inherited a talented bunch of ladies from longtime Trojans mentor, Bill Case. After losing to Harpursville in the MAC title game – one of only two losses that season – the Trojans avenged that defeat less than two weeks later in the Class C playoffs, won the Section IV championship, and advanced all the way to the state semifinals before losing to the eventual state champion.

Boys’ Basketball (Norwich 2012-2013)
Norwich has won four Section IV titles over the past 12 years, and while last year’s team may not have been the best, it came the closest to advancing in the state tournament. The previous three NHS champions all lost by double digits, but last season, Norwich dropped a one-point final to Westhill, and had possession of the ball at the end of the game with an opportunity to win.

Swimming (boys and girls), Greene
In terms of sheer accomplishments, Greene takes the top spot. The boys won 48 straight league meets from 2001-2010, and had a 20-meet winning streak in 2007-2008. The Trojans girls went undefeated in 2007-2008 piling up 24 straight wins an adding 20 of 21 gold medals in the 2007 MAC championships.

Field Hockey (Greene 2009, 2012)
The only difference between these two teams was the margin of victory in the state playoff games. The Trojans went unbeaten in 2009, and didn’t allow a single goal throughout the postseason in capturing the Class B title. It was rinse and repeat three years later with the reward a Class C state title and another unbeaten campaign for head coach Sue Carlin

Bowling (Sherburne-Earlville)
Over the past decade, the Marauders – boys and girls – have rarely lost as many as two matches in a season, and each club (boys and girls) is well on its way to another unbeaten season and a Center State Conference title.

Football (Greene, 2008)
The last Chenango County team to win a Section IV title was Oxford’s 2000 team. Since that time, Greene, Norwich, and Oxford have all made Section IV finals appearances. Of late, Greene has led the area with two sectional finals appearances over the past six seasons. The better of those two Trojans teams was the 2008 outfit that finished 9-1. That Greene team averaged 38 points per game and won by an average of 25 points a game heading into the Class C championship game. Coming in as a prohibitive favorite, the season ended in a 14-6 loss to Elmira Notre Dame.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat.

On the verge of “Progress”

Friday, January 24th, 2014
Shawn Magrath

• If ever there’s a time of year when The Evening Sun staff has little on their plate, January more than makes up for it. As I’m sure most readers are well aware, it’s “Progress Chenango” time at the newsroom, a time when staffers drink unsafe amounts of coffee and forget what fresh air smells like. Fortunate for me, my share of Progress work is done for another year. But it’s just getting started for our Editor in Chief, who faces the weekend task of putting the behemoth of a project together. The rest of us will be taking turns Saturday to prod her awake by poking her with a stick, and occasionally wiping the drool off her keyboard.

• On Thursday, “Taking Back Chenango County” met at the Sheriff’s Office for the second time sine the group formed in December. First off, I have to say I admire this group because they’ve shown that they love the area – love it – and are eager to make a positive change. I think their efforts were clearly born of good intent and I wish every one involved the very best of luck in what they’re trying to accomplish.

That said (and at the risk of sounding like a downer) it will be interesting to see if anything comes of it. Admittedly, I didn’t attend either of the past two meetings; but I get the impression that many who did are people who genuinely want change but aren’t too eager to rise to the challenge (I have my own term for these types of people, but I’ll refrain for the sake of my “virgin ear” readers). I don’t think it’s fair that anyone show up to these meetings just to delegate their ideas to someone else. My feeling is if you really want to see something good happen, then get involved. If you have an idea, follow through. Be productive. Be hands on. Attending a an occasional meeting to pat yourself on the back is not “hands on” work, but merely cheering from the sidelines.

Regardless, good luck, Taking Back Chenango. If there’s one thing this area needs, it’s proactive measures.

• On an off topic, my job requires that I take photos for front page stories as often as possible. Unfortunately, because my primary beat is city and county governments, I don’t spend too much time with a camera in hand. On the rare occasions I do, I wonder if a monkey could snap a better picture. So what’s a reporter to do but learn more about the photography trade? I recently watched an online video from New York Times Magazine that featured tips and tricks from from a 60-plus year veteran cat photographer. What I learned – other than the profession of “cat photographer” is a thing – is it’s best to be eye-level with the subject, then grunt, bark, moan or groan to get a reaction… I’ll let you know how it works for me.

• Fellow reporter Matt White recently told me that white noise often helps with concentration and focus in the office. I’ve heard this before, so I decided to try it out today. I started with a 10-hour soundbite of a vacuum cleaner. That got old fast, so I switched to “noisy cafe,” then to the sound of rain. Then I started listening to Eric Clapton’s “Let it Rain.” Then the Beatles’ “Here comes the sun.” Before I knew it, things got out of hand and I was listening to the Black Eyed Peas, which I assure does not bolster concentration nor creativity. Maybe I’ll try the whole “white noise” thing again another day.