Oswego

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Across central new York, charity groups are hosting Thanksgiving dinners for the area's less fortunate. But in the city of Oswego, one restaurant owner is expanding on that idea and inviting the entire community to join in.

Nestled in La Parrilla's small kitchen, Ray Jock and his sous chef Jim Toy work to prep food for the evening's dinner service. While the two men discuss specials amid the hiss of grilling squash and the clanging of pots and pans, the pair also creates a game plan for their Thanksgiving meal.
 

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

A nearly 190-year-old building in Oswego that most recently held Coleman's Irish Pub, is the subject of a legal battle between the city and a local developer who says he wants to buy the building and renovate it. While the lawsuit drags on, the building, which over the years has housed a chandlery, customs office and a fish market, deteriorates.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Homeowners living in Oswego can breathe a little easier knowing that this year's budget does not include anything close to last year's 43 percent property tax increase.

Mayor Tom Gillen's budget presentation at this week's common council meeting lasted only a few minutes, but spoke volumes. The mayor proposed a $43.3 million budget that includes a property tax increase of 1.4 percent. That translates to about $14 extra for the average $70,000 dollar home.

Democrat Councilor Fran Enwright says this year's budget comes as a big relief for taxpayers.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Oswego city voters overwhelmingly approved a five percent tax cap on Election Day, and some lawmakers say they are on board with the new law, which they hope will bring more accountability and efficiency to the annual budget process.

Republican Fifth Ward Councilor Billy Barlow says he's excited to see the city's new five percent tax cap in place. But it isn't just about the city's taxpayers drawing a metaphorical line in the sand regarding the city's budget.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

On Tuesday the city of Oswego will decide whether it wants to bring back a five percent property tax cap, but many of the city's elected officials warn that it could come with some unintended consequences.

The proposed property tax cap would force Oswego to keep any tax increases to less than five percent. If the city raises taxes more than that, Oswego residents would have to vote to approve the budget. If that fails, the city must reduce the budget to keep the increase below the threshold.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Property owners in the city of Oswego were hammered last year with a 43 percent property tax increase. But this year, the city's mayor says he expects a much more pleasant result for the city's taxpayers, citing several positive changes in the city.

Nearly one year ago, Mayor Tom Gillen and the Oswego Common Council were heavily criticized for their passage of the massive tax hike.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Oswego Common Council Vice President Eric Van Buren has switched parties, and is endorsing Republican congressional candidate John Katko in his race against incumbent Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei.

Van Buren, the former Oswego City Democratic Committee chairman, released a statement Wednesday morning saying he made the decision after much thought and consideration.

Katko says he's happy to receive Van Buren's support, and that it's a sign of ongoing change in the region.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Residents living in the city of Oswego have been making small changes to the exteriors of their houses in an effort to beautify neighborhoods. The goal of the program isn't just to restore property values, but to restore pride as well.

Catharine Early has lived in her home on the corner of West Third St. for about eight years. But it wasn't until this summer that she took action to repair an old retaining wall near the side of her house.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The Port of Oswego has spent the summer replacing rail lines and creating a rail yard east of its main site in Oswego to help the facility continue its planned expansion. But the project has some Oswego residents worried that those changes could prevent them from visiting a stretch of shoreline along Lake Ontario that has been accessible for years.

Rocco Saya created a Facebook page to gather supporters of an openly accessible shoreline. He says the Port of Oswego has not fully communicated its intentions for the area with citizens.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The city of Oswego is taking the first step toward restoring peace and quiet to residents living near the Oswego River.

Last night, the Oswego Common Council voted unanimously to terminate an agreement with Brookfield Renewable Energy allowing the company to post warning signs. Brookfield also uses an alert system with sirens meant to warn fisherman about rising water levels near a dam that the company operates. Homeowners say the sirens are too loud and go off too frequently, including one resident who said he can't open his windows because of the frequent noise.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The Oswego Common Council is expected to vote tonight on a resolution taking away Brookfield Renewable Power's right to regulate an area of the Oswego River near a hydropower dam it operates. Third Ward City Councilor Michael Todd says if the resolution is successful, it could also help the city address problems with the company's use of warning sirens for fishermen that are causing residents to complain.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino was in Oswego Tuesday to meet with supporters, including Assemblyman Will Barclay, to discuss his plans for office if elected. One of the many topics he covered was the need to regrow the upstate economy, including leveraging the region's residents and location to help spur economic development.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Community leaders, business representatives and educators met in Oswego recently to discuss ways to reduce bullying in schools and provide students with the tools to become successful citizens. The "Inspire 14" program was hosted by the non-profit organization Wisdom Thinkers Network, and attempts to prepare children for the future through story telling.

Ralph Singh, chairman of the Wisdom Thinkers Network, says the program fosters collaboration between students and their communities.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The United States Geological Survey has added a new research vessel to its Great Lakes fleet, which will help monitor the health of Lake Ontario.

The new boat replaces a boat that was in use for fifty years and was finally decommissioned a couple years ago. The Research Vessel Kaho, which means searcher or hunter in Ojibwe, was commissioned and christened in Oswego Wednesday morning, even though it's been in use since last year.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

A small crowd gathered near downtown Oswego Monday morning in support of Gary Thibodeau, who they believe was wrongly convicted of kidnapping 18-year-old Heidi Allen from a convenience store 20 years ago.

More than two dozen people held signs along Route 104 in Oswego, urging motorists to honk if they believe Gary Thibodeau should be free. Thibodeau's brother, Richard, and niece Amanda Crawford organized Monday's "Gary the Innocent" rally to make people aware of what Crawford calls an injustice.
 

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The Sheldon Ballroom at SUNY Oswego was packed to capacity recently, as residents learned how to survive on their own in the case of an emergency.

As visitors watched a PowerPoint presentation, a member of the New York National Guard explained to them the types of disasters that could devastate a community like Oswego. It's this kind of preparation that Master Sgt. Peter Towse, with the National Guard, says can help someone in the case of an emergency.
 

For the past month, members of the Oswego community have been rehearsing a historical play based on real events, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the area's involvement in the war of 1812. WRVO's Mark Lavonier met with members of the production team to learn more about the play.

The play "The Great Rope" will be performed inside the grounds of Fort Ontario tonight at 6pm in Oswego.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Hundreds of people came to Oswego's Nine Mile Point Nuclear Learning Center to get a better understanding of how the power plants work and what employees do each day to keep the plant working properly.

The event allowed visitors, including nine-year-old Ethann Browne, to see first hand how employees are trained in its two reactor simulators.

"I already like researching nuclear power and learning much about it, but I'm here today to learn more about nuclear power from the professionals."
 

Takashi Nishimura / Flickr

Harborfest, an annual four-day event that brings more than 100,000 people to the city of Oswego, begins Thursday.

The Oswego Police Department says they are beefing up patrols to prepare for the influx of people and to try to keep everyone safe, but Police Chief Tory DeCaire says they always need extra help.

"We rely heavily on outside agencies and the law enforcement assistance that they provide," DeCaire explained. "We are going to have officers on foot, on bike, on ATVs, as well as marked police cars, and officers detailed at specific venues."

Gino Geruntino / WRVO/file photo

Novelis Inc. is in federal court in Syracuse to defend itself against charges by the National Labor Relations Board. The case stems from allegations by the United Steelworkers Union that the Oswego aluminum manufacturer interfered with a vote by its workers to unionize.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Homeowners in the city of Oswego will be able to voice their opinions at a pubic hearing on a proposal to reinstate the city's five percent property tax cap. The original limit was removed in 2011, but after the city's common council approved a 43 percent property tax increase in December, support has been growing to bring it back.

But Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen says this year's tax hike was unavoidable.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Oswego's Safe Haven Museum is marking 70 years since Fort Ontario served as a camp for Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during World War II. To celebrate the event, one Oswego resident who lived near the fort at the time talked about what it was like and tells the story of her long-lost friendship with one refugee.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Beginning Thursday, the Safe Haven Museum in Oswego is celebrating the 70th anniversary of when 982 Jewish refugees were first housed at Fort Ontario.

In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt allowed 1,000 Jewish refugees to enter the United States as guests, and they lived at the decommissioned Fort Ontario base in Oswego until 1946, when they were allowed to stay as American citizens or return home. The refugee camp, known as "Safe Haven," was the only location of its kind in the U.S.

Cassandra Genua

Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen has vetoed one of the two resolutions passed just days after this year's controversial Bridge Street Run. The Oswego Common Council unanimously passed a measure to bill SUNY Oswego for overtime costs accrued by police, fire and public works department associated with the unsanctioned annual pub crawl.

Nearly 30 people were arrested and two were injured during this year's event. Three students also overdosed on heroin during Bridge Street Run, but police say the event is not to blame.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

A rising demand for automotive aluminum to meet federal fuel mileage standards is helping Novelis in Oswego plan for the next five years, including spending millions of dollars on infrastructure and building projects and creating up to 250 new jobs.

Plant Manager Chris Smith says this is the first time in the plant's 51 year history that it has been able to provide employees with an extended plan. He says it's because the company's recent automotive contracts are longer than the majority of Novelis' prior business agreements... which lasted between one and two years.

Leah Landry / WRVO

Students on the SUNY Oswego campus have been taking to social media to voice their concerns about proposals to change the tradition of Bridge Street Run, an unsanctioned bar crawl that draws hundreds of students and others to the city to celebrate the last day of classes.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The city of Oswego Police Department has arrested two men in connection with the heroin overdoses that occurred in the early Saturday morning hours in Oswego.

Brian Tumolo, 21, of Manorville, N.Y., has been charged with selling heroin to two people, who later were taken to Oswego Hospital and treated for suspected heroin overdoses. Tumolo was arrested early Saturday morning.

One of the individuals Tumolo is alleged to have sold the heroin to is Gabriel Gonzalez, 22, of Bridgeport, Conn. Gonzalez was arrested Monday evening and also charged with selling heroin.

Leah Landry / WRVO

The city of Oswego Common Council voted unanimously Monday night to ban the Bridge Street Run, a decades-old pub crawl that draws hundreds of SUNY Oswego students to downtown Oswego each spring on the last day of classes. 

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Story updated on Monday, May 12 at 8:00 a.m.

On the SUNY Oswego campus, students say they are still coming to terms with the weekend's heroin overdoses, in which one student died and two others were hospitalized.

Many students say they are uncomfortable talking about the subject. One student, Jessie Brandt, said she was scared when she first saw the emergency alerts on her phone.

Cassandra Genua

Today is the last day of classes for the school year at SUNY Oswego, a day that some Oswego students treat like a holiday. That’s because every year Oswego’s Bridge Street explodes with hundreds of people for the bar crawl called the Bridge Street Run, also known as BSR. Participants wear white t-shirts that are signed by friends and fellow classmates as they go from bar to bar.

For some students the event has become a staple of their time at SUNY Oswego.

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