Five years from now, the Syracuse skyline could look very different. Instead of an elevated highway heading into the city, the New York State Department of Transportation could construct an arterial boulevard. Or an underground tunnel. Or an iconic bridge. Truthfully, the DOT isn’t sure yet what the new Interstate 81 will look like. They just know that something needs to be done to replace the existing structure. “Bridges are designed to last for a certain period of time,” said Beau Duffy, public information officer for the NYS DOT. “The I-81 viaduct in Syracuse is reaching this point in time. Because repair and refurbishment of the bridge involves a significant investment, it makes sense, from a cost-benefit perspective, to look at potential alternatives for the future of the corridor.”
Editors at Eagle Newspapers were honored for their work at two recent awards ceremonies that celebrate the best journalism in Central New York and statewide.
Up-and-comers in the Central New York music scene will compete for prizes as well as the coveted title of “Best Band” this weekend, and they’ll support a good cause at the same time. Stand Against Suicide will host its inaugural Battle of the Bands on Saturday, April 20, at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College. Doors open at 11 a.m. and bands begin competing at noon. Tickets are $7 for students and $12 for adults. Eighteen bands will compete for a chance at the title as well as prizes.
When Caryn Daher’s son, Jon, was little, he was into everything — even more than the average toddler. “He was… constantly bumping and crashing into things and people and seeking-jumping type activities,” said Daher, a Cicero resident. “He had difficulty in regulating and responding to movement activities appropriately. It went far beyond a ‘busy’ toddler.” In addition, Jon struggled with a variety of sounds, often withdrawing or avoiding certain situations because of the noise level. He had higher-than-average sensitivities to food, temperature and touch. In addition, his speech was delayed. It was that delay that led to help for his other issues. Through his speech therapist, Jon was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.
In a surprise move, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney appointed former Cicero Supervisor Chet Dudzinski to replace outgoing Legislator Bill Meyer, just hours before the Cicero Republican Committee unanimously nominated current Supervisor Jim Corl for the position. Corl said he was notified of the decision in an email that was also sent to Dudzinski and Michael Becallo, who had also expressed an interest in the seat.
WCNY has launched a new effort aimed at helping local nonprofits. “Won’t You Help a Neighbor?” uses the public broadcast station’s many media resources and connections to promote causes near and dear to Central New York residents.
More than 20 years after losing her mother to cancer, Kristin Atkinson is channeling her grief into helping other women. Atkinson of Cicero, Kristin Johnson of Cicero and Tara Polcaro of North Syracuse started The Molly Project as a way to provide comfort to women affected by cancer and their families. Named after Atkinson’s late mother, The Molly Project got its start a year ago when Johnson’s sister called her, looking for a way to help a co-worker with cancer.
With a $20 million budget gap facing Syracuse, the city’s busiest fire station may be on the line. City officials have floated the idea of closing down Syracuse Fire Department Engine Company No. 7, located at 1039 E. Fayette St. But the members of Local No. 280, the firefighters’ union, say that would be a very bad idea. “In the past two years, we’ve had several incidents of multiple fires in the city. We were stripped, using every resource,” said Paul Motondo, vice president of Local No. 280. “Losing an engine company, especially this one because of where it is and what its responses are, it’ll create a huge void.”
As we enter the New Year, many of us are pledging to get healthier — to lose weight, exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables. But possibly the healthiest resolution, and one of the most enduring, is to quit smoking. But given that tobacco kills more people every year than alcohol, car accidents, cocaine, heroin, homicide, suicide, fire and AIDS combined, wouldn’t it be better never to start?
There’s a lot of conflict in education these days, but experts agree on one thing: something needs to change. “New York State has high academic standards and spends more money per student than any other state in the nation,” said a report by the New NY Education Reform Commission issued last week. “However, we are not seeing enough return on investment, especially for the large number of students from a background of poverty. New York lags far behind most states in graduation rates; only 74 percent of New York’s students graduate from high school, and only 35 percent are college ready.” That’s why Gov. Andrew Cuomo convened the the 25-member commission last April: to better prepare New York’s 2.7 million K through 12 students for the future. The commission issued its preliminary recommendations last week to mixed reviews.
On Saturday, Dec. 15, Moyers Corners Fire Department Station No. 1 opened its doors to a different kind of crowd. In addition to the usual crew of firefighters and first responders, several burn survivors and their families also came to the station in order to enjoy the holiday celebration of the Burn Foundation of CNY, to which the department volunteered to play host.
Operation Southern Comfort, as well as Operation Northern Comfort, its locally-active counterpart, has sent volunteers to areas affected by Sandy twice since the beginning of November. Norm Andrzejewski, a Liverpool resident who has been to the hardest-hit areas of the Gulf Coast more than 40 times since Katrina struck, said it’s an all-too-familiar scene. “It’s a lot like New Orleans, a lot like Mississippi, especially in some of the harder-hit areas like Rockaway,” he said. “There’s a lot of sand, a lot of homes that need to be mucked out. There are a lot of families hurting.” That’s why ONC and OSC are teaming up in a new effort, one Andrzejewski is calling Operation Sandyland, to help those affected by the latest disaster. A team, led by Andrzejewski’s granddaughter Kristin, will be heading down with a rental truck on Dec. 22 to help out wherever they can.
Want to get the people on your gift list something unique this year? Why not try something from one of Central New York’s many locally-owned businesses? To get you started, here’s an A-to-Z primer, with descriptions and suggestions. Got your own favorites? Feel free to share on our Facebook page.
When you put some of Central New York’s most popular bands under one roof with the goal of having them compete for the title of “Best Band,” it should make for some good entertainment. When you do it for a good cause, it should make for a great fundraiser.
During the holidays, there’s no place like home. But for the Fields-Hennessey family of Wynmoor Drive in Cicero, home is but a memory; theirs was destroyed in a devastating fire. The blaze broke out shortly after the family had gone to bed the night of Oct. 4. They were alerted to the conflagration by neighbors, who happened to see the flames through their back door, and banged on the Hennesseys’ door to wake them and get them out of the house. Maryann Fields and her daughter Marisa Falgiatano escaped without injury, but Fields’ husband David Hennessey suffered burns to his hands, and his son Connor suffered severe cuts to his hands and arms when he had to break through his bedroom window to escape. A family friend was also injured in the fire.
On Election Day, voters in Central New York resoundingly rejected national Republican candidates, re-electing President Barack Obama by a vote of 59 percent to Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s 38 percent, choosing Democrat Dan Maffei over conservative opponent Ann Marie Buerkle for Congress and, at a more local level, selecting more liberal Al Stirpe instead of Don Miller. While the presidential vote isn’t a big surprise — Obama took Onondaga County by a similar margin in the 2008 election — both Maffei and Stirpe lost those seats in the 2010 elections to Buerkle and Miller, respectively. So what made voters change their minds? What made these two candidates, as one politician at the Democrats’ Election Night celebration put it, “Central New York’s Comeback Kids”?
The images of the devastated Jersey Shore are haunting, particularly for those with a lifetime of memories swept away by Hurricane Sandy. Among those are Jim Siciliano and his daughter Gabby, who moved to Manlius from Ocean Township, N.J., 12 years ago, when Gabby was in fifth grade.
This election cycle, more women ran for Congressional office than ever before, with 18 running for the Senate and 141 for the House. In New York, both candidates for the Senate race were women; two of the three candidates for the 24th Congressional District race, one of the nation’s most hotly contested seats, were women.
Dan Maffei has issued a statement declaring victory in the 24th District Congressional race.
Democrat Al Stirpe retook the 127th District Assembly seat from Republican Don Miller, defeating him by a vote of 32,013 to 26,035. Stirpe had previously held the position from 2006 to 2010. The district encompasses the towns of Clay and Cicero and part of the town of Manlius.
Democrat Julie Cecile beat out Onondaga County Legislator Patrick Kilmartin for the open seat in the Onondaga County Family Court on election night. Cecile defeated Kilmartin, a Republican, by a vote of 98,742 to 78,425. Cecile is currently the executive director of McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center. Kilmartin is a practicing attorney.
Don Miller, 127th District Assemblyman and Republican candidate for the seat, cast his vote this morning, confident that he would retain his seat in the state legislature.
Democratic Congressional candidate Dan Maffei was confident as he cast his vote early Tuesday morning at the DeWitt Community Church, praising his campaign volunteers and urging Central New Yorkers to get to the polls. “We had the largest get-out-the-vote effort that I’ve ever seen in this region, so I’m very proud of that,” Maffei said. “Literally hundreds of volunteers who have worked not just today, but for many, many months, and I will tell you this, I am very, very confident that we have put everything into this effort that any campaign can, and I am very, very proud.”
You’ve all seen the commercials: Dan Maffei’s campaign accusing Ann Marie Buerkle of colluding with Todd Akin to redefine rape. Buerkle’s ad lambasting Maffei for giving bonuses to his staff with taxpayer money.
A lifelong Central New Yorker, Al Stirpe was born and raised in Clyde, where his family owned and operated Albert's Restaurant for more than 25 years.
Don Miller was elected to represent the people of the 121st Assembly District (now the 127th) on Nov. 2, 2010. The district encompasses the towns of Cicero, Clay, Manlius, LaFayette and Pompey in Onondaga County.
Ursula Rozum is a Syracuse native, the daughter of Polish immigrants who were exiled due to their work with the anti-Communist Solidarity trade union. She holds a BA Political Science and Latin American Literature from McGill University. In recent years, she has worked with Citizen Action of NY, the Working Families Party and the Green Party. Currently, she works on staff at the Syracuse Peace Council. She has been active locally working on issues of peace, immigrant rights, Latin America Solidarity and in the movement to ban hydrofracking in New York.
A native of Auburn, Ann Marie Buerkle is a nurse, healthcare attorney, mother of six and grandmother of thirteen. After graduating as an R.N. from St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing, Buerkle worked at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. For many years while raising her family, she was a substitute school nurse. In 1994, she obtained a J.D. from Syracuse University School of Law. Buerkle served as an assistant attorney general for New York state from 1997 until deciding to run for Congress in 2009. She is a former member of the Syracuse Common Council, a former volunteer legal council for abused persons at the Vera House crisis shelter, and former volunteer legal council for Syracuse families through the Onondaga County Bar Association’s Pro Bono program. Buerkle defeated Dan Maffei for the 24th district seat in 2010.
For many struggling to find their way out of an abusive situation, the most uncertain time can be after the matter is taken to court. Now, in order to help address that uncertainty, the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies statewide are taking part in a pilot program that will allow those who have been granted orders of protection by their local family court to register to receive alerts when those orders are served.
Dan Maffei earned the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton this week in his bid for the 24th Congressional District seat. Clinton came to Syracuse to speak on Maffei’s behalf at a rally that drew around 800 people. The Syracuse stop was part of a whirlwind tour across the Northeast that also included stops in Pittsburgh and Rochester, during which he stumped for President Barack Obama and Democratic Congressional candidates. During a speech that lasted about half an hour, Clinton lambasted Maffei’s opponent, Republican incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle, calling her “a tea party extremist” and criticizing her support of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney and his policies. ““Why in the wide world would people give me a tax cut and cut benefits to kids with disabilities?” Clinton said.
Ruth Kutz of Syracuse and Nancy Bunn of Marcellus came together to form Women’s Initiative Now (WIN), a group dedicated to supporting candidates that they feel champion women’s issues, as well as the issues of working families. The group formed in June of 2012. They hold monthly meetings at which they discuss the candidates they support, political issues, fundraising techniques and how to gain new members.
State Sen. David Valesky (D-Oneida) has signed on as a co-sponsor to legislation introduced in the last legislative session that will allow those charged with animal abuse or neglect to be charged with a felony under New York State Penal Law. Currently, crimes against companion animals are legislated under New York State Agriculture and Markets Law.
Dan Maffei, Democratic candidate for the 24th District Congressional seat, received the backing of New York’s senior U.S. senator last week. Meanwhile, Maffei’s Republican opponent, incumbent Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, was endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle was one of 48 representatives and 11 senators given a grade of “F” on a new report card released Oct. 3 that grades legislators on how well they address income inequality. The report was issued by the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The organization has been criticized for being left-wing. The report card is based on 40 legislative actions taken over the past two years that relate to inequality, including attempts to create a “Buffett Rule” minimum tax rate that all wealthy Americans must pay, efforts to raise the minimum wage, legislation on the Bush tax cuts, the stimulus, the Lilly Ledbetter Act and more. In addition, the report includes an overall “honor roll” — to highlight those representatives and senators who have done the most to narrow America’s economic divide — and a “dishonor roll” of lawmakers who have repeatedly tilted the “1 percent” way. The report card also details the “most 1 percent friendly” and “most 99 percent friendly” by party affiliation.
When Stephanie Heath Higgins met Grace, she could barely hold up her head. The pit bull, at 7 or 8 years old, should have weighed around 60 pounds. But Grace weighed about 30. She was emaciated, dehydrated, suffering from an eye infection. She couldn’t walk. Her organs were shutting down. But Higgins loved her anyway.
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle was one of 48 representatives and 11 senators given a grade of “F” on a new report card released Oct. 3 that grades legislators on how well they address income inequality. The report was issued by the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The organization has been criticized for being left-wing.
Due to inclement weather, the Bridgeport Duck Race, scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, has been postponed. It will take place next Saturday, Sept. 15, instead. It will still take place at 3 p.m. in Chittenango Creek behind St. Francis of Assisi Church in Bridgeport.
If the crawfish is the official symbol of Operation Southern Comfort, then the salt potato is the emblem of its sister organization, Operation Northern Comfort. “Operation Southern Comfort does a golf tournament every year called the Crawfish Open,” said Dick Bonanno, ONC’s coordinator. “Since that name reflects the southern influence, we said we needed a name with a northern influence. And what’s more Syracuse than salt potatoes?” That’s why the organization’s first fundraiser, a golf tournament scheduled for this Saturday, has been named the Salt Potato Open. The event will raise money for Operation Northern Comfort’s efforts to provide labor and donations anywhere they’re needed in Central New York. A project of St. Joseph the Worker Church of Liverpool, ONC is dedicated to helping people throughout the community with projects big and small.
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle was presented last week with the 2012 Standing Up for America’s Seniors Award by RetireSafe, a national, nonpartisan grassroots organization that advocates on behalf of America's seniors, for “her outstanding leadership on behalf of seniors.”
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) America’s largest federation of labor unions, released its list of endorsements last week, and, not surprisingly, the candidates were overwhelmingly democratic.
It wouldn’t be out of line to say that the fate of the Bridgeport Food Pantry rests on the back of a plastic duck — or a whole creek full of them. The pantry will hold its annual “Don’t Duck Hunger” duck race fundraiser at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 in the parking lot of St. Francis Parish in Bridgeport. The race typically raises somewhere in the range of $25,000 for the pantry. “We were very successful last year. We raised $25,000. Every year, we’ve gone up $5,000, so you know what I’m going for this year,” said Patti Hedrick, coordinator of the food pantry. “I don’t know what we’re going to do if this isn’t successful. We’re required by federal mandate to give them so much protein, a fruit and a vegetable. It’s not like they can come in and we just give them some crackers and a roll of toilet paper. They have to get the requirements. We can’t cut down.” The food pantry, which is affiliated with the Food Bank of Central New York, serves between 150 and 165 families a month in the towns of Cicero, Manlius and Sullivan. That number spikes to near 300 around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since July of 2011, the pantry has provided 72,230 meals, an increase of 24 percent since July 2009.
Every 15 minutes in the United States, someone takes his or her own life. That means every 15 minutes, a family is left to wonder why. In order to help loved ones struggling to find answers, Stand Against Suicide (SAS), an Elbridge-based nonprofit that seeks to raise awareness about the risks of mental illness and to encourage those in need to get help, is sending Sympathy Baskets to families who reach out to the organization. “A friend of mine has a terminally ill parent,” said Tara Dennee, who founded SAS in 2010 in memory of her father, Wayne Olmstead, who died by suicide in 2009. “Her father has cancer. A group sent them a book and a ‘gift basket’ with little things to make them feel comforted. I thought, what a wonderful idea for us!” SAS sent out its first Sympathy Basket Thursday, Aug. 9, to a family in Missouri that lost its mother to suicide in May. That basket contains a sympathy card, the book “No Time To Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One” by Carla Fine with a handwritten message from Dennee in the front cover, handmade beaded "Hope" bracelets made by SAS volunteers, SAS T-shirts and brochures and a few miscellaneous items specific to the family.
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed landmark legislation that would change the lives of the disabled nationwide. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The ADA also establishes requirements for telecommunications relay services.
Enable, which is also known as the United Cerebral Palsy and Handicapped Children's Association of Syracuse Inc., provides clinical, educational, personal and community services to people with disabilities all over Central New York. The agency serves more than 1,500 adults and children each year.
Ursula Rozum is running for the 24th District Congressional seat on the Green Party line. She hopes to defeat Democrat Dan Maffei and Republican incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle.
For 40 years, runners looking for a low-key training opportunity could get it through the “fun runs” put on by the Syracuse Chargers Track Club at Onondaga Lake Park in the summer months. Those days are gone, at least for the 2012 season. “Unfortunately, we've had to cancel the Thursday night Fun Runs at Onondaga Lake Park for the 2012 season because no one has volunteered to oversee them this season,” said Bob Heimenz, webmaster for the Syracuse Chargers, in an email to the CNY Triathlon Club. “As an all-volunteer organization, the Chargers can only do as much as our volunteer resources support.”
On the campaign trail, there’s been a lot of talk about helping veterans get jobs. But in a two-story brownstone on Gifford Street in Syracuse, a small team of dedicated professionals is actually making it happen. The Veterans Residential Program is run by Peter Young Housing, Industries and Treatment funded by the Veterans Administration. The program is based on Father Peter Young’s “three-legged stool” program: provide veterans with treatment for their issues, whether they are related to substance abuse, mental health or something else; give them a place to live; and help them get vocational training and find a job. Once they have all of those, they will land on their feet. The program, which has been in existence for over 50 years, has homes from Buffalo to New York City.
This summer, SAS will hold its first-ever “Take a Stand, Save a Life” fundraiser. The soon-to-be annual event will feature a craft fair, car and motorcycle show, live music, raffles, children’s activities and food.
Did you hear the one about the talking pineapple? How about the one about the math question with no right answer? These aren’t riddles. They’re questions from the New York state math and English Language Arts exams given to third- through eighth-graders statewide from April 16 to 27. The tests are designed by Pearson, Inc., which has a $32 million contract from the state to provide the tests, and vetted by a team of psychomatricians (test experts) before they are distributed to school districts. The pineapple question refers to a much-maligned reading passage on the eighth grade ELA exam describing a race between a pineapple and a hare, a twist on the old fable of the tortoise and the hare. The entire passage and related questions can be read here: usny.nysed.gov/docs/the-hare-and-the-pineapple.pdf. The passage so confused such a great number of students that the state had to pull the questions; they won’t be counted towards the final assessments.
Former Assemblyman Al Stirpe announced Wednesday that he will run for the 127th Assembly seat he held from 2007 to 2011. The seat is currently held by Don Miller. Stirpe made the announcement at a press conference on the lawn of the NSEA offices in North Syracuse in front of representatives from the Democratic party, labor and local nonprofits.