Oswego

Thousands of central New Yorkers are heading to Oswego this weekend for the city’s celebration of Harborfest, its annual festival. Families are treated to a carnival, concerts and an elaborate fireworks show. WRVO's Payne Horning visited with some of the patrons about why they make Harborfest part of their summer traditions.
 

Harborfest continues Saturday and Sunday. The fireworks show Saturday night will include a celebration of the bicentennial of Oswego County.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has finished a dredging project at the Oswego harbor, resulting in the removal of 175,000 cubic yards of sediment. That will allow the Port of Oswego to accommodate bigger ships with more cargo.

At a press conference marking the project's completion Wednesday, Port of Oswego Authority Chairman Terrence Hammill said the port is on track to create an economic impact for central New York worth $50 million, a record amount.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Preparations are underway to ready Oswego Speedway to host the annual Super Dirt Week in October. The major racing event was supposed to take place at the new Central New York Raceway Park in Hastings, but New York officials had to shift gears because of construction delays.

"You’re always going to get the people who don’t like change," said World Racing Group director of events Jeff Hachmann. "The unfortunate thing is they have no choice. We were dealt change and now it’s our job to make Super Dirt Week what it was before."

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The city of Oswego has won the state's Downtown Revitalization Initiative award for the central New York region. The competition gives $10 million to 10 communities throughout New York.

In Oswego Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo congratulated Oswego's leaders for developing what he called a smart plan that can help a city and region scarred by the loss of manufacturing.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The National Park Service (NPS) has agreed to complete a reconnaissance study on Oswego's Fort Ontario and Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Museum. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), who pushed for the study, said it is another positive development in the community's attempt to elevate the two historic sites to national park status. He has authored a bill that, if passed, could make that a reality.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The parents leading a charge to restore the 29 athletic teams that were cut in the Oswego City School District's new budget are celebrating a $150,000 grant that will supplement their efforts, but the funding won't be enough to rescue all of the teams that were eliminated and that's causing some division about how to best utilize those dollars.

Susan DiBlasi looked relieved at the school district's board meeting Tuesday.

"We're ecstatic," DiBlasi said."I think it's nothing but positive things going forward."

Jason Smith / WRVO News (file photo)

The House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources has approved a bill that would launch a study to determine if Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Museum in Oswego should be elevated to national park status.

The legislation, which was authored by central New York Rep. John Katko, passed unanimously out of the committee and now heads to the full House. The 260-year-old Fort Ontario has been involved in several major American wars and the Safe Haven museum commemorates the 986 Jewish refugees who were granted shelter at the fort during world war two.

Jason Smith / WRVO News (file photo)

The Oswego Common Council approved a plan Monday from Mayor Billy Barlow to offer free wireless internet service in the city's downtown by a vote of 5-2. Several citizens spoke in favor of free WiFi ahead of the meeting, but some councilors were concerned about the price of the project and how soon it came up for a vote.

The costs for the first year would run $42,500 thousand dollars and nearly $30,000 each year thereafter. Barlow said the price is justified, calling free WiFi an essential amenity to modernize the city.

At the Oswego Common Council meeting Monday, Mayor Billy Barlow presented his plan for free public WiFi in the city's downtown. The young mayor called it an essential amenity to modernize the port city.

Jason Smith / WRVO News

Oswego County Administrator Phil Church is a shipwreck diver and photographer in his off time. These days, he's bringing his hobby to work. Church is coordinating an effort between Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the city of Oswego to have the southeastern part of Lake Ontario designated as a national marine sanctuary. There are only 14 in the world and Church said Oswego has a good case to join that list.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

During nearly two hours of testimony in Oswego City Hall Tuesday, community leaders and Nine Mile Point Nuclear Plant employees begged staff from New York's Public Service Commission to support the proposed "clean energy standard" under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's goal to generate half of the state's energy from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by 2030.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO News File Photo

During a hearing on Capitol Hill, Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) urged his colleagues to designate Oswego's Fort Ontario and Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum to National Park status. The Republican congressman is sponsoring a bill that would trigger a study to determine if the historical sites are worthy of becoming part of the National Park system.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

City officials and area leaders in Oswego are putting together an application for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's downtown revitalization initiative competition that will award $10 million to 10 New York communities.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Officials working on a project to revitalize the 3.8 miles of State Route 104 that runs through the city of Oswego say improving the road's safety is a chief concern among residents. The 104 streetscape project was intended to enhance the aesthetics of the road and its surrounding sidewalks and businesses, but feedback from locals is mostly centered around safety.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

For the second time in a week, Oswego police and fire services responded to a bomb scare Thursday at one of the city's schools.

Notes were left at the Oswego High School on May 10 and at the middle school Thursday morning, both warning of a bomb. In both instances, the school buildings were evacuated and the threats were determined to be not credible.

The Oswego City Police Department says it has identified a female student at the middle school as a possible suspect. They are still investigating the threat made to the high school.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Oswego Common Council passed a law that requires second-hand stores, like pawn shops, to keep a detailed record of any items they buy and who sells it to them so police can track down stolen material. And, the stores would also have to keep any items they buy on the shelves for at least a week. It's modeled after similar anti-burglary laws in Syracuse, Onondaga county and Fulton.

Jason Braun, owner of the Wise Guyz pawn shop in Fulton, said the change will mean fewer thieves will be able to exploit unregulated Oswego pawn shops.

Kevin Withus

Friday marks the last day of classes for SUNY Oswego students for the year, which means the return of the annual bar crawl, Bridge Street Run (BSR). While BSR is considered a long-time college tradition, SUNY Oswego is hoping to build its own tradition as an alternative.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Oswego school officials hope a public hearing on its budget crisis Tuesday will alert state lawmakers to what they call a broken funding formula. The school district is wrestling with declining tax revenues and reserve funds, which has resulted in a proposed budget that cuts more than 50 jobs.

"This is an era of financial difficulty for our district that we have to weather over the next three years after this year," said Oswego City School District Superintendent Dean Goewey, the architect of the controversial budget that slashes more than $5 million.

Oswego pawn shop bill drawing criticism

Apr 27, 2016
Payne Horning / WRVO News

In an attempt to crack down on burglary, Oswego is considering a bill that would require the city's pawn shops to keep better records of their business transactions.

Mayor Billy Barlow, who's leading the effort, said he has heard from too many frustrated residents who say Oswego police (OPD) often reach dead ends when looking for their stolen property.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Oswego City School Board approved a $79.5 million budget Tuesday, despite opposition from several students and parents who criticized its cuts to athletic programs.

The district is facing a $5 million shortfall because of falling tax revenues, mainly due to a declining tax agreement with the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Facility, and a depleted fund balance, which is so low that state officials have asked the district not to dip into it for this year's budget.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Update:

The Oswego Classroom Teachers Association released the following revised statement Thursday morning.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Oswego Common Council narrowly approved the creation of an ethics board Monday. The three councilors who voted against it said they supported the initiative, but disagree with the resolution's language that gives the mayor sole power to select all three of its members. Mayor Billy Barlow said that's consistent with his right to appoint people to other city committees under Oswego's charter, yet several residents like Tom Ciappa argued that this committee should be unique.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Included in central New York’s upstate revitalization plan is $40 million to develop an inland port that will process international freight containers coming from the Port of New York and New Jersey. The proposed location of the inland port is just outside of Syracuse in Jamesville, but another competing plan in a different location has been under consideration for years.

Entergy

If the owner of the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant refuses to keep the facility open, can the state force it to? That's the question after FitzPatrick owner Entergy has rejected several offers to help keep the financially stressed plant from closing in January. The company says it's too late, but some think the state may not need Entergy's approval.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

In the state's latest attempt to combat the heroin epidemic, officials are expanding access to a drug overdose antidote to ensure more New Yorkers can access the potentially life saving medicine. 

Naloxone, more commonly referred to as Narcan, is now available without a prescription at 750 independent pharmacies and chain pharmacies. That's in addition to the 480 CVS and 460 Walgreens pharmacies that were approved to offer Narcan without a prescription earlier this year.

Oswego's Wayne Drugs manager Jamie Branshaw praised the state's action.

centro.org

A tracking system that shows customers where Centro buses are in real time is in a test stage in Syracuse.

Bus Tracker is already in place in Centro’s smaller markets, Auburn, Oswego, Rome and Utica. But the bus company just finished geocoding the system in Syracuse. Centro spokesman Steve Koegel says now that’s done, patrons can actually see buses moving along a bus route in Syracuse.  

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Oswego is planning a major revitalization of the area along State Route 104, which runs through the middle of its downtown and waterfront area.

Mayor Billy Barlow said it doesn't take long for visitors to pass through the city on Route 104, leaving little time for Oswego to stand out.

"It’s the face of our community," Barlow said. "It’s the street that gives you the impression, you know the first 30 seconds you have to make an impression."

City of Oswego

Oswego's new mayor says he is well on the way to achieving reforms he targeted for his first 100 days. Halfway there, Mayor Billy Barlow is celebrating what he calls a new energy at city hall. He has opened new positions in the code enforcement department, a new city website is under development and the city's community development department is currently undergoing a complete overhaul.

"My approach up to this point has been let's get our house in order before we start trying to attract people when we don't have our act together," Barlow said.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

In his 2016 budget presentation, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed investing an additional $100 million in a $200 million grants program that helps pay for water infrastructure projects. Despite the water infrastructure problems facing central New York, only two municipalities in the region are receiving funding in the first round of grants.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

When a high school student is not admitted to a college or university, they receive a rejection letter. But at SUNY Oswego, that process is changing to let some denied applicants have another shot.

The college rejected about 2,500 freshmen applicants last year, according to Dan Griffin, director of admissions at SUNY Oswego. The response to those students was the same.

"We’re sorry, we can’t help you out as a freshman," Griffin said. "If you go someplace else for a couple of semesters, maybe you should reapply and we'll do our best to accommodate you."

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