Staff changes, recent shooting, upcoming stories

It’s been a while since I’ve written updates from the newsroom, so here we go.
Long-time Sports Editor Pat Newell has arrived in New Mexico, which is now his home. Jim Testani now sits in at the sports desk and has been doing a great job thus far. I have no idea what actual shoe size Pat wore, but his figurative shoes are pretty big to fill. Jim has been diligently working and I’m sure will make Pat proud.
Cameron Turner is another welcomed addition to our staff. A recent graduate from SUNY Oswego with a degree in journalism, he is eager and an extremely hard worker. He’s shown already that he’s knows his stuff, and doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to getting a story. He’ll be mainly covering the court/crime beat, but anyone with an event they find newsworthy can contact Cameron at He is also on Twitter with the handle @evesuncameron.
Summer is finally here, and the heat this week has been brutal. I allow myself one complaint per season regarding the weather, so I suppose I’ll use my summer complaint right now. …It’s too hot.
As far as news goes, it’s been a busy week and a half to say the least.
Last Sunday, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. (without an alarm, mind you) and realized there had been a shooting in the City of Norwich. I worked diligently to obtain official comments and reports from authorities from the time I woke up until 10 p.m. that night. I was able to make it to the alleged shooter’s first arraignment that day and get some photos. The man was charged with attempted murder. He bonded out. He was later charged with two additional crimes, and no additional bail was set at that arraignment on Thursday.
I’ve been in contact with authorities in regard to the victim’s condition.
I attended Norwich City Court with Cameron to help show him the hopes last week, and covered a felony hearing following a drug arrest. The judge determined that the case will move to Chenango County Court.
Also, last week, I was filmed for a television show regarding the Ramsaran murder trial that took place in 2014. While I was nervous beyond belief beforehand, it was smooth once the camera was rolling. I was able to provide dates, events, and verbatim testimony from memory. I wore makeup. …That was awkward.
Once I know the air date, I’ll post an update.
There’s so much more going on, but I’ll save the other information for stories to print. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming stories regarding the Danielson murder trial, Rebecca’s Virtual Run, Eric Lindell in the park as part of the Summer Concert Series, updates with regard to the shooting, and much more.

Reporters are a dime a dozen, but sports editors are different

Reporters are a dime a dozen. Sports editors, on the other hand, are a little harder to come by.

If you haven’t already noticed a familiar name missing from the sports pages lately, let me get you up to speed. Pat Newell ended his nearly 20-year run as Sports Editor on Friday, calling it quits to the newspaper and to Chenango County in favor of a new life in beautiful New Mexico. Olé!

This isn’t the first time the newspaper has bid farewell to Pat. If you’re a regular reader, you might recall that his hiatus in 2014 brought about a season of adjustment for The Evening Sun that left somewhat of a bad taste in the mouths of both subscribers and staffers. Live and learn. Fortunate for The Evening Sun, losing Pat this time around means welcoming a new Pat, so to speak. A younger, sleeker Pat. Pat 2.0 for the millennials. Rookie reporter Jim Testani assumed his new role flying solo as our newest Sports Editor on Monday. Jim was a fantastic addition to the news team when he was first brought on board as the crime reporter seven weeks ago, showing an unyielding sense of eagerness to learn more about all things newsworthy in Chenango County. No doubt he has big shoes to fill as the county’s go-to sports guy, but we’re confident in his ability.

Jim’s new role left us with an open reporter position that was promptly filled by newcomer Cameron Turner. Having started during what was the busiest news week of the summer thus far – from a weekend shooting in Norwich, to the ousting of State Senator Tom Libous, to a fatal motorcycle accident in Otselic – Cameron hit the ground running. Now with a week of reporting under his belt (and I think he even has his chair adjusted to the way he likes it), Cameron will be taking on the crime and court beat.

What a waste of space this blog would be if I didn’t address the controversial $15 an hour proposed wage hike for fast food workers. In fairness, fast food’s a demanding job, what with all the burger flipping, fry scooping, shake pouring, toilet scrubbing and floor mopping – not to mention the complications of operating the drive thru speaker (reserved for the more advanced fast food workers). But instead of ranting my opinion on the issue, let me draw your attention to this: The University of Califonia, Berkley, values preschool teachers between $8.63 and $20.99 per hour. This means the folks who are entrusted with molding the minds of children would actually fair better financially by making sure they put the right number of chicken nuggets in their happy meal. Just something to consider.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, July 16, 2015

I wrapped up my summer golf series Monday, July 13 playing at Seven Oaks Golf Course in Hamilton. It was a pleasure to play a top-notch course through the invitation of Mark McLaughlin and Rick Ferris. While my overall score was poor, you cannot beat the camaraderie amongst friends who suffered through poor play as well.

Earlier this week we received a news tip about nonagenarian Howard Adams. Adams, a retired Norwich realtor, is quite the table tennis player, and continues to rack up awards for his play. A multiple gold medalist in the Empire State Senior Games, Adams added a National Senior Games title in his age bracket earlier this week in Minneapolis. News reporter Jim Testani followed up on the story lead, and we’ll have a story in the Friday, July 17 edition.

Perhaps you caught the wording of my photo caption earlier this week in which the participants in the GET Basketball Clinic were depicted. The description of the photo noted that the camp was led by Norwich varsity basketball coach, Brian Collier, and Norwich teacher Sara Locke. Collier was recently appointed the new head varsity basketball coach stepping in for his dad, Tom Collier. Tom Collier coached the Tornado for four years winning three Section IV titles and two STAC titles. “This is the right time,” Tom Collier said earlier this week. “The program needs a young coach with a lot of energy, but I’ll still be a part of Norwich basketball as long as I am living in the area.”

Speaking again of Jim Testani, he will be stepping in to the sports editor role at The Evening Sun beginning next Friday, July 24. I will – again – be moving back to New Mexico to live with my wife, Aida. I was fortunate to have another year at the newspaper, and I wish Jim the best as he moves the sports section forward.

Better pay attention at Walden Oaks C.C.

Note: Below is an excerpt of Friday’s golf review of Walden Oaks Country Club in Cortland. Check out the full story in the Friday, July 3 edition:

CORTLAND – Long before I knew there was such a thing as attention deficit, there was a pervasive need within me for something new, something different, and something exciting. It was that line of thinking that led to conceiving a weekly summer golf column.
Self-analysis revealed “homer” tendencies when it came to my longtime recreational passion, so off I went in pursuit of new golf challenges.
Earlier this week I found that elusive diamond in the rough – pun certainly intended – when I toured the 18-hole layout at Walden Oaks Country Club in Cortland. Unlike every course I have reviewed the past two years, Monday, June 29 was the absolute first time I had laid eyes on the course.
Yes, Walden Oaks proved the perfect example of why I write these golf treatises.
While I had heard of Walden Oaks, I can’t claim the suggestion of playing the course. My oft-partner, Rick “O’Shea” Ferris, had a few rounds under his belt at Walden Oaks, and he invited his good friend, Sam “STN” Scafidi to round out our threesome. Sam, too, had four or five previous rounds on the course. Sam would soon be dubbed “Sammy Cold Cuts” for the feathery fade he used to find the fairway during the morning’s spritzing rainfall.
Indeed, the forecaddying those two provided during the round proved invaluable in shot selection and placement. It also helped that Rick remembered to bring his GPS. Somehow I managed to get through my first 30 years of golf by eyeballing the 150- and 100-yard markers, and estimating yardage to the hole from there.
That GPS? Well, it almost feels like cheating.
Unlike most of the golf courses in Cortland County, Walden Oaks is a mere babe in the woods. It opened for business in 1993, and current head professional – and operations manager – Marcus Bernardo came on board one year later.
“Basically, the developer (of the course) was paired with the home builders, and the golf course was built around the housing development,” Bernardo said.

Like a Snow Day in May. (yeah, that’s a thing)

My mobile phone is perpetually inundated with notifications, voice-mails, emails, twitter alerts and on and on… So much so that it sometimes takes a day or two to filter through them all and bring myself up to date on everything that’s happening around me.
To my surprise, this week I received an automated message from the Norwich City School Superintendent kindly reminding us to go vote on the budget, before dropping the bomb.
Apparently, last winter wasn’t harsh enough. Somehow NCSD—and some others around the county—ended the snow season with one of those prized snow days to spare. Whomever the powers-that-be decided that students would get an extra day off, extending their Memorial Day Weekend into Tuesday, you know… that day we all have to be back on the books.
That being said, I’m Jealous.
In my entire career as a student in the NCSD system, never did we receive an extra day off.
In fact I recall that Dr. Bob Cleavland would have us in school when even the “walkers” would need to hitch a ride with a plow truck to make it in sans tardy. Uphill, both ways.
Okay, so maybe I’m not “jealous,” but the notion of a fair-weather freebie does have me reflecting a bit on priorities, and I’m having trouble tacking down how we can afford to give students a day off when the list of mandates and nonsensical common core standards continue to increase.
So, while I’m at work on Tuesday, I’ll be sure to wish my kids in daycare a happy and productive “snow day” as I push through my “freebie,” cause all that scratch is going to the sitter.

follow me on twitter: @evesunmatt

Sports season winding down

The 2014-2015 scholastic sports season is about ready to close shop with hopes starting anew in late August. Some noteworthy athletes and teams to keep an eye on the next couple of weeks are the Norwich participants in the Section IV tennis state qualifier this weekend, and later, the upcoming Section IV Track and Field state qualifier.
Norwich seniors Zan and Colin Stewart look to punch their ticket – again – to the New York State tennis championships in New York City at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Stewarts are defending Section IV champions, and actually made some inroads at the state tournament a year ago winning a couple of matches.
For those with an affinity for boys and girls running fast, jumping far, and heaving a weighted instrument great distances, league championships are this week, the Section IV state qualifier is in two weeks, and the state championships are June 12-13 at the University of Albany.

I was moved by an obituary that appeared in our Friday, May 15 edition. Kenneth Earl Holt recently passed away, the obituary said. There was no specific information on the date of death, Ken’s age or the names of his surviving family members. The few short paragraphs used to sum up the man’s life were obviously far too few to document a life well lived. Ken was one of my accounting teachers at SUNY Morrisville, and I found him a pleasant man. He was someone who actually “lived it” rather than simply working in academia all of his adult life with no actual hands-on business experience. After an amazing list of lifelong accomplishments, the writer of the obituary closed with the words, “Through it all, (Ken) remained true to himself. We can all aim to live such a life.” Well said.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

The start of a long, winding campaign season

Hats off to all who have been involved in bringing the Greater Chenango Cares initiative into fruition. For those who don’t know, Greater Chenango Cares is an innovative readiness training (IRT) exercise for service men and women that will connect the underserved community to much needed health, optometry, veterinary, and dental care services. At the same time, it will provide invaluable training for service members for wartime and disaster missions. It’s a classic win-win arrangement between the Department of Defense, and the people their sworn to serve. And while the DOD has held similar events in other parts of the country, Chenango was chosen as the first IRT site in the north east region. Now I wouldn’t ever make it a habit of saying this, but sometimes (and I stress “sometimes”) it pays to be underserved.

Even though the Chenango County Republican primaries are still five months away, the local election season is already starting to heat up. “House of Cards” references aside – at least until one of our reporters goes missing – three campaign related stories were published in The Evening Sun this week: one announcing Assistant District Attorney Zachary Wentworth’s intent to challenge District Attorney Joseph McBride for the DA position; another regarding the Chenango Republican Committee’s endorsement of McBride for reelection; and lastly, an announcement from longtime Norwich resident Christine Carnrike that she’s throwing her hat in the ring for Norwich mayor. As a reporter, it’s an exciting time – for the newspaper and for the profound words of wisdom sure to shine on ’30 Seconds.’

From local elections to the national scene (grunt). It’s a long 19 months until the next presidential election, but considering the constant Hillary buzz from national media outlets in the last week, it’s hard to believe elections aren’t right around the corner (not that I don’t already have a repertoire of candidates I can’t wait to vote against). Hey, I’m all for shattering the glass ceiling that’s barred women from advancing in the male-dominated political arena. But then again, the election of a female president will be just as effective ending sexism as the election of a black president was in putting an end to racism. If being a woman is what gives Hillary an edge, I can’t wait to watch the presidential debate when every candidate’s rocking the Hillary Clinton haircut, heels, and well tailored pantsuit.

It’s been two weeks since Easter but I still have a flock of Peeps on the kitchen table staring at me every time I walk in the room. It’s unsettling how fresh they still look in their… um… maturity. I’ve heard the only way to tell the age of a Peep is to throw it against a window. If it bounces, it’s less than a year old. If the window needs to be replaced, it’s older than a year. I do love a good experiment.

Sports Editor’s Playbook: April 3, 2015

We don’t have a full accounting of his career record – and all of the wrestlers he has guided to Section IV and New York State titles – but we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize Tim Jenks, Greene’s longtime wrestling coach.
Our coverage of Greene wrestling was primarily in big tournaments, and that’s where Jenks’ charges flourished. Jenks announced his retirement before the start of the 2014-2015 wrestling season, and he leaves with more wins than any local wrestling coach. Although we do not have his career victory total, Jenks passed 300 career dual meet wins a few years ago, and his list of championship-level wrestlers is voluminous. Over the past five years, Jenks guided Christian Dietrich (2014), Kyle Stanton (2012), and Nick Wilcox, Tyler Beckwith (2010) to Division II state titles.
I may have spoke to Jenks perhaps two or three times a wrestling season, but he was always good for an entertaining quote. Good luck to Jenks in retirement, although I can’t see him too far removed from the wrestling mat.

Thursday, April 2 we published the first of what we hope will become a long-standing and yearly edition: The Best of Chenango County Winter Sports. It’s a departure from our usual inserts in that it was almost exclusively a pictorial edition with bullet points of each respective team and athlete. Why was it photo-based? More on that in a moment. On a season-by-season basis, we typically publish dedication/congratulations/good luck pages for teams that achieved at a high level. Last winter, for instance, the Norwich varsity boys’ basketball team was recognized for its third straight Section IV championship. About four weeks ago, there was a staff discussion about which particular teams and athletes had outstanding seasons. We concluded that there were too many who excelled and one dedication page was not enough, so we decided to expand on the theme. Initially, the thought was a 10- or 12-page edition, but advertising support was tremendous, so what you saw in yesterday’s print edition was a 20-pager. About that all-picture concept: We covered all of these teams and athletes in great detail throughout the winter sports season, so the picture concept was designed to create an ultimate scrapbook keepsake. Where else will you find half-page photos of teams and athletes? And in color? Aside from our yearly Progress Chenango editions, this is the most color we have published in any insert with 16 of the 20 pages in full color. The new written copy we did add to the feature was updated quotes from many of the individual athletes who were able to speak in a non-competitive setting and elucidate on their sport.

Before I left for vacation last month (mid-March), I looked at the spring high school sports schedules and noticed that several teams were scheduled to play in late March/early April. I can’t remember if I smiled or laughed out loud, but with about two feet of snow still on the ground, I wondered yet again why the schedulers stubbornly paired teams in late March. Maybe once every four years is a game played in late March, and in those cases, the teams scheduled in those games were fortunate to have actually practiced outside in preparation for opening day. Inevitably, a boatload of games are rescheduled to later dates when, presumably, the weather is less inclement. Last weekend I received an email from the Unadilla Valley coach, who had games scheduled the ensuing week. The coach wrote: “As you might suspect, all events for baseball for UV this coming week have been cancelled.” This coach knew there was no hope any games would be played. Over the past three days, we’ve seen quite a bit of snow melt away, however, the bare spots remain muddy and soft. Major League Baseball’s opening day isn’t until April 6, and that’s the top level of sports. Stands to reason the six-week regular season of baseball/softball should follow suit and not schedule games until the second week of April, thereby reducing some cancellations and postponements. That probably makes too much sense.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

Think outside the bun, indeed

I have attended a lot of public meeting in my time as reporter, but never one where I hear the question: “What does that smell like?”

Of course I’m talking about a recent story on last week’s informational meeting for a proposal to build a meat processing plant on County Road 23 in the Town of Sherburne. The meeting (or meat-ing, as we were tempted to put on the front page) brought out well over 100 residents who wanted to weigh in on the idea. The company behind the $20 million project, All In Meats, Inc., claims it would add about 120-150 jobs to the area, and boost the local ag industry by saving farmers the expense of shipping cattle to slaughtering facilities in Pennsylvania. While I certainly agree that more jobs would be welcome to the area, I don’t know enough about the industry to say where I stand yet. But I look forward to the impending debate.

On a separate note, with Norwich Mayor Joseph Maiurano’s two-year term expiring at the end of the year, talk is swirling of who might be sitting behind the mayor’s desk come January. Only one candidate, Thomas LoPiccolo, has officially thrown his hat in the ring while rumors of other possible Republican candidates are beginning to circulate. Regardless of whom you’re pulling for, it looks like this year’s ballot will not be uncontested (unlike it has been in the past two city mayoral elections). Thumbs up for choice. I know what you’re probably thinking; and no, this not a jab at Maiurano, nor is it an endorsement of any particular candidate. This is simply a cheer for the democratic process the way it was intended to be: with options.

I think it bears mentioning that Taco Bell has been in the news way more that you would think it should be lately. On Wednesday, the AP put out a story about the chain’s decision to change up its breakfast line by getting rid of the “waffle taco” and replacing with a biscuit – something or another (I mean, it’s Taco Bell. Does it really matter exactly what they’re replacing it with?). The… well, big announcement, I guess… comes just weeks after Taco Bell said it will use a test market in California for its “Cap’n Crunch Delights” – a deep-fried ball of sweet dough filled with sugary cream and dusted with crushed Captain Crunch cereal. You can almost hear the diabetes setting in. All this is to say that Taco Bell is, beyond any doubt, the foremost company to benefit from the legalization of recreational marijuana. Better buy your stocks now. Who would have thought we would see the day when Taco Bell as a safe financial investment?

Greene field hockey coach built on a great legacy

A couple of weeks ago we acknowledged the impending retirements of a pair of winter-season coaches. It took a while, but word on the grapevine finally traveled up Route 12 to these ears – from Greene.
The parent of an outgoing senior field hockey player on the Trojans confirmed that longtime head coach, Sue Carlin, is retiring from teaching at the end of the school year. Does that mean she’s retiring from coaching? Appears so.
Carlin was an outstanding high school player for Hall of Fame coach Nancy Bromley during the formative years of the program. About a quarter century after graduating from her alma mater, Carlin took over a program that was already a well-oiled machine.
During Carlin’s tenure, Greene doubled its field hockey state titles winning three times – the first in 2002 when assistant coach – and likely successor – Christine McCabe was a freshman.
The first game of the 2013 season, Carlin reached a victory milestone – 400 wins – and according to our records, finishes her distinguished coaching career with 418 wins. That includes double-digit Section IV titles, and five overall state titles – two at Maine-Endwell prior to moving back to Greene.
“I’ve just had some great kids, great families, and great assistant coaches over the years,” Carlin said in 2013 after her 400th career victory.
Humble in victory, gracious in defeat, and always giving full credit to her charges, Carlin was a steady influence on the sideline stressing poise and precision under fire. And her kids always performed with class on the field, a reflection of Carlin’s own character.
When I visit Greene for preseason photos and interviews this coming August, it just won’t be the same without Sue Carlin. Best wishes in retirement, Sue, and it was my pleasure to witness how you built on Greene’s long tradition of success.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

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