Friday, February 26, 2010

Team D - Wednesday 4:30 Newscast

Even though it was just a practice run, I was very pleased with our newscast on Wednesday. The anchor and reporters communicated with me very well and we had a lot of great content for the six-minute broadcast.

Erika Mahoney was anchoring and we were sitting next to each other in the news room the entire time during production. She got her story on the Canastota School District vote done early which allowed her plenty of time not only to write the headlines, the tease into break, the Love Handles kicker, and the close, but also go over and edit the other copy stories that I wrote. I made it very clear that she could edit whatever she wanted since, after all, she's the one reading it for the broadcast. During the broadcast, she did a great job keeping up with time. Most of A-Block was right on time and we went into break about 10 seconds heavy. She made up for it quickly in B-Block and we actually finished the broadcast about 10 seconds light, which is fine with me.

Our reporters were Greg Shillinglaw, Jesse Pantuosco, and Jessica Cunnington, all of whom did a great job with their stories as well. Greg's first story idea on the Common Council meeting fell through but he ended up getting a great story when he saw five fire trucks rush through Downtown Syracuse, apparently because of a fluorescent light bulb that burst. Jesse sat down with SU's Dept. of Public Safety captain John Sardino to discuss security plans for Saturday night's highly anticipated men's basketball game against Villanova. Jess took a local spin on Fashion Week by visiting a couple of local boutique stores and seeing how Fashion Week has affected business for them. Everyone did a great job of keeping me updated on their status and getting their stories done early so we ready to go well ahead of the 4:30 show time.

I think we really benefitted from having three reporters on our team (whereas the other teams had two). This allowed for me to keep a good pace when making the rundown and get a variety of stories into our newscast. I would like to listen to the newscast again before Wednesday this week so I can take note of things I liked and didn't like about the broadcast itself. I was so focused on timing while the last broadcast was going on that I really didn't listen to the content very closely.

Overall, I was very happy with how everything worked out and everyone else on the team said they were as well. Although I have some production experience that may or may not have helped, it was my first time producing a six-minute live radio newscast, which is way different from a 30-minute taped sports show (which is what I produce every week). I knew that going in, which made me a little nervous going into last week. But this week I'm really looking forward to producing and working with Erika, Greg, Jesse, and Jess again.

4:00 Newscast

The Wednesday 4:00 p.m. newcast was relatively successful considering it was the first radio newscast for every member of our team. Our stories were all newsworthy and were of interest to Central New Yorkers.

The biggest positive I take out of the newcast was how well it flowed. It started with a pretty good wrap by Natalie McGurn about Centro's new transfer hub and followed with a story about Centro bussing for Saturday's Syracuse-Villanova game. After a national story about a jobs bill and a regional story about a protest againt a proposal to legalize selling wine in New York grocery stores, the newscast turned back to transportation.

We had a national story about the Toyota CEO apologizing for fatal flaws in the company's vehicles, and then a regional story about a deal with Toyota and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

The newscast went from a regional story back to a local feature wrap on how Syracuse schools are celebrating Black History Month and a local feature phoner about the premiere of Syracuse Stage's "Lookingglass Alice."

As our A block progressed, we became gradually heavier and heavier. Hannah Kollock did a great job reading her stories, and Natalie and Simon Rosenwasser did a great job with their wraps. Hannah is generally a slow reader, and although she told me this numerous times in the hours before the newscast, I failed to take it into account. I should have allowed more time for her to read each story.

However, I did not, and Hannah had to say "Now this" before the break instead of reading the tease. She then had to skip a story on a hero dog, and read an extremely abbreviated weather and goodbye. Hannah did a very good job preparing abbreviated versions of the tease, weather, and goodbye, and it sounded great. As producer, I also did a good job timing the newscast, figuring out what needed to be cut and and abbreviated, and ensuring it was six minutes long.

The talent did a great job throughout the day, and the problems fell on me, as the producer. It took me way too long to create the rundown and write stories, and luckily Hannah, Natalie, and Simon helped out and wrote some stories which I had intended to write. Another consequence of me being behind was that I did not have time to listen to Hannah read each story before the newscast, and realize how long it takes her to read each story.

Next week, I will be a lot quicker with the rundown and stories, and will make sure there is ample time to listen to Hannah read each story. I will also take into account that she is generally a slow reader. If Hannah, Natalie, and Simon build upon their solid jobs, then it should be a great newscast.

Hudson Valley hit hard by snow

The Hudson Valley is covered in snow right. There have been 165,000 power outages. Schools all over the Valley are closed. But Albany Police Officer Mike Smith says that the conditions are not horrible.

"The mains roads are cleared, its really the secondary roads that a concern right now."

Smith says Albany got about 12 inches of snow, and that its still coming down. He says its very wet outside, but that most officers driving through the city have not had a problem getting around. 

Before today, Albany had just 28 inches of snow all year, 18 less than what it normally gets by this time of year, but Smith says that the additional is not a welcome sight. 

"I'm the kind of guy who's always wishing for Spring" 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Liverpool superintendent believes school closings are necessary

The Liverpool School Board announced they will close two elementary schools because of low enrollment rates and decreased funding.

Assistant Superintendent Kevin Nuzzo said the option had been floating around for awhile. "Enrollment rates have decreased 10 percent in the last five years," said Nuzzo. "It's been pretty clear we haven't been meeting capacity."

Liverpool School Board member Mike Murphy said Liverpool schools have been losing about 150 students a year.

"There comes a time when you have to realize we have a budget to support a certain amount of people, and we're not meeting that number," said Murphy.

That, combined with huge budget cuts from Albany, led Superintendent Richard Johns to close Wetzel Road Elementary School by 2012.

Parents and community members gathered on Tuesday to discuss the closing, but both Johns and Nuzzo believe that is for the best interest of the town.

"We're not gaining kids, and that's the reality."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wired Wednesdays at Baldwinsville Public Library

The Baldwinsville Public Library is giving adults a chance to learn about computers and other technology they are not familiar with, by hosting a free weekly program called Wired Wednesdays. This week's session taught attendees how to download music from computers to mp3 players and iPods.

"I want to enjoy my iPod more. My kids loaded it up for me and now I want to know how to rearrange it, get rid of stuff, and put new things on," a newcomer to the program, Nancy Sears, said.

Librarian Val Chism began the program more than ten years ago with the intention of helping people learn about computer programs they might need to use to get jobs. But the program's current director, Julia Schult, said these days, people usually come for their own enjoyment or because they simply want to have a better understanding of what's going on around them.

Like Saturday's Game Local Hotels Are Sold Out

Photo Credit to Sheraton website:

Everyone in Syracuse knows about this weekend: Villanova is to town for the biggest NCAA basketball game of the year. Not to mention the record-breaking attendance is expected to be 34,616 people and ESPNU’s College Gameday will be on Syracuse University campus.

With all this hype, local hotels are filling up…or are already full. The Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center has 236 rooms and are all full for Friday and Saturday, says General Manager David Heymann.

“We’ve been sold out for a long, long time…for probably 6 months,” Heymann said.

The Hampton Inn at Carrier Circle is not as close to the Dome as the Sheraton, but it has still received many reservations. Assistant General Manager Mark Goodsellow says the Hampton is definitely feeling the impact of Saturday’s game.

“We’re sold out completely tonight already, we’re half sold out for tomorrow, and we’re completely sold out for Saturday,” he said.

Just days away, the attention on this sold-out matchup continues to grow on the S.U. campus and the Syracuse community. Like the rest of the community, local hotels are anticipating game day.

Team B Newscast

Our newscast included coverage stories around the Central New York area and a few national stories. Our main stories were Centro’s plan to handle its bus routes for Saturday’s SU/Villanova game, how most hotels in the area are sold out for this weekend, and a special program at the Baldwinsville Library that teaches people how to use computers.

We also added stories about New York supermarkets possibly selling wine, a Toyota recall in the area, and Federal Reserve Chariman Ben Bernanke’s latest news on the economy.

I thought our newscast went pretty well for the most part. Merav Savir and Alyssa Norwin found very interesting stories, and they did a great job with their wraps. They met the necessary deadline for finishing their pieces, and the stories were timed out well.

Allie Leogrande did a nice job writing the stories she was assigned to write. She also finished everything on time. She was on time reading her stories during the newscast, and we went into the break exactly when we were supposed to. We could have been perfectly on time, but I cut Allie short on the weather to ensure we finished before time was up.

Game Day Buses

The highly anticipated Syracuse-Villanova game is just days away, and SU is expecting the largest crowd for an on campus college basketball game, ever. Does this larger than usual crowd need more buses to transport fans from parking lots to the Dome? CENTRO's Director of Marketing and Communications Steve Koegel says no.

Koegel says CENTRO will supply the same number of buses that it does for every other Syracuse basketball game, which is between 35-40 buses. He says when the football plays well, the Dome can fill up to 50,000 people, and CENTRO is responsible for busing many of them from the parking lots to the Dome. He says compared to a sold out football game, they expect Saturday to be “a piece of cake.”

He also says that many people attending the game are SU basketball fans that come to almost every game and they all have their own routines. They know where to park, how to handle the bus systems and have their own “secrets” of maneuvering their way to the Dome.

The number of people attending the game may increase traffic around the Syracuse University Campus. Koegel says most bus routes will not be affected by the traffic, but buses passing through campus will either be rerouted or get caught in slight traffic. He also says by the time the game is over, at around 11:00 or 11:30 pm, there will be less CENTRO buses on the roads, and less traffic.

CENTRO will not be responsible for transportation from Manley and Sky Top lots to the Dome for ESPN's College Game Day on Saturday morning. Koegel says normal bus routes will operate, but off campus fans who usually take buses from the parking lots will have to find their own ways to Carrier Dome for the morning show.

Sardino Doesn't Expect Security to be a Problem for Villanova Game

A record crowd is expected at the Dome this weekend for SU’s game against Villanova. And when the record falls for the biggest on-campus crowd ever at an NCAA basketball game, John Sardino plans on being there to see it happen.

But Sardino won’t be wearing any orange. He won’t even be there as a fan. Instead, he’ll be wearing his DPS captain’s uniform. Sardino, will be in charge of security at the Dome for its biggest game of the year.

Sardino said today that security is definitely going to be increased for Saturday’s night game. He said that the game’s 9 p.m. start time could affect fan behavior. “Well it increases the number of intoxicated people which is somewhat of a concern. You know that’s something that we look at,” he said.

Even with the game’s late start time and emotions running high in the arena, Sardino still doesn’t expect things to get too out of hand on Saturday. “I’m not expecting [bad fan behavior] and my experience has been by and large that our fans are there to watch the game, enjoy the competition and have a good time. We’re lucky that we deal with very few problematic people at the Dome,” he said.

Sardino has been with DPS since 1985. He’s seen the Dome filled up for everything from rock concerts to sold-out SU football games. So Saturday shouldn’t be anything new for him. “I’m expecting a good game and I’m expecting most of the fans, 99% of fans, to be into the game and there to cheer on the Syracuse Orange,” said the longtime DPS captain.

It sounds like Syracuse fans should be in good hands this Saturday with Sardino in uniform.

The Lunch Break From Hell

People working at The 500 Building on South Salina St. spent lunchtime outside in the cold thanks to a broken fluorescent light.

One of the building's owners, David Shah, says a ballast, the part of the light that controls the amount of electricity, broke, causing the fluorescent light to overheat.

Shah says one of the building's tenants called the Syracuse Fire Department after they smelled something burning.

The deli on the first floor of the building was packed with people buying sandwiches and coffee when firefighters showed up in the lobby after 12:30 p.m. A crowd of more than fifty people gathered outside and watched as firefighters rushed into the building.

People started coming back into the building after firefighters found the source of the burning smell. The fire department says there was no fire or smoke.

"This is the first time this has happened since I've been working here," Shah says.

A look at Lookingglass Alice

Photo Courtesy of

Lookingglass Alice opens tonight at the Syracuse Stage. The show is a combination of two books: Through the Looking-Glass and Alice in Wonderland.

Syracuse Stage's Publications Director Joseph Whelan says this adaptation is a very physical interpretation of the show.

Whelan says in order to make room for the acrobatics and trapeze that will be onstage, the first two rows of the house had to be removed. To make up for the lack of seats, Whelan says seats were added onstage - something he says has never been done in his 14 seasons with Syracuse Stage.

Theater-goers have the option to purchase one of the 96 stage seat tickets, which range from $31-$48. Normal ticket prices range from $24-$48.

Lookingglass Alice will run from February 24th until March 14th with both matinee and evening performances.

Canastota Building Plan to be Decided Thursday

South Side Elementary School
Photo courtesy of Canastota School District webpage at

While the Liverpool Central School District considers closing two elementary schools, the Canastota Central School District is proposing an expansion plan that includes a brand new one. It's a $60 million plan and voters will decide tomorrow whether or not it passes.

The plan proposes turning Peterboro Street School into district offices, renovating Roberts Street School and selling South Side School. Also included in the plan is money for a completely brand new elementary school and new transportation facility.

Canastota Superintendent Fred Bragan says he hopes the plan passes because the current buildings are unsafe.

"We have to respond to the lack of space and the aging facilities," he said Wed.

If the plan passes, the project would end up costing taxpayers about $330 a year.

Voting takes place tomorrow from noon to nine p.m. at Whitelaw Church, Roberts Street School, South Side School and Clockville Town Hall.

SU vs. UConn Not Expecting Big Crowd

The Syracuse University women's basketball team will face it's toughest opponent of the season tonight when they face off against the UConn Huskies. The Huskies enter the game with a 66 game winning streak. During that streak, UConn has won every game by double digits.

However, despite having the best team in the nation, and arguably the greatest women's team of all time playing at the Dome, a large crowd is not expected for the game. According to the Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Managing Director of the Carrier Dome, Pete Sala, there has been very little change in ticket sales from any other women's game. Sala blames this on the fact that the game falls on a weeknight.

"Unfortunately, this is a weeknight game. The last time we did the UConn game, we had over 5,000 people here," said Sala. "With it being a weeknight game, we're expecting about 2,000."

Despite fewer tickets being sold to the general public than originally hoped, Sala does expect more students to show up to the game tonight. In large part, this is due to students getting in line for the Villanova game on Saturday. Camping out for Saturday officially begins tonight.

"Otto's Army has that element all organized, and again the students come in for free for women's games. We're thinking we'll have at least two or three hundred kids for the women's game."

Sala said that there is usually not a big presale of tickets for women's basketball. Rather, it is usually a walk-up crowd, which is what he is hoping for tonight.

From Fashion Week to Marshall Street

It's been five days since the Fashion Week finale in New York City and that means stores will be stocking up on the new trends. Marc Jacobs, Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger all dressed the runway with fur, nude colors, knee socks and blazers.

Fashion Week does not only effect the high-fashion world. The new styles trickle-down to the non-designer brands that sell in stores for middle and lower-class people.

The Rhodadendron boutique on Marshall Street has definitely kept up with the new ideas and trends on the catwalk.

"I'm seeing a lot of paralells from the clothes that we're getting in and then styles shown during fashion week," Senior Syracuse University student, Emily Friedman said, who works at Rhodadendron.

Although the new styles are hitting the racks of this small boutique in Syracuse, the shoppers have not increased because of it.

"I don't think it [Fashion Week] was a catalyst for anyone to say I think I'll go buy new clothes," said Friedman.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Little boy with big passion for the ice

A light snow fell down on the Clinton Square Ice rink Wednesday. Over twenty people came to skate, most of them children. Some were teenage lovers, others just beginners, but one kid stood out.

A chubby little boy skating circles around everyone else in the rink, glided effortlessly.Compared to him, everyone else seemed to be clumsily walking around the ice.

It's not like Matthew Robinson just put a pair of skates on yesterday. He has been skating for nearly half of his life.

"I've been skating since I was four," says the seven year old.

Robinson doesn't wear ice skates, he wears hockey skates. He says he loves watching the sport but doesn't play it. But he will be spending his February break cheering on his favorite team, the Syracuse Crunch.

"Crunch on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday," says Robinson. He lights up when talking about the Crunch; his smile reveals teeth too big for his tiny face.

Robinson says he's looking forward to the outdoor game this Saturday at the Fairgrounds. He also says he busted his lip open just three months ago at the Clinton Square Rink.

But that hasn't stopped him from skating here. Just like any hockey player, he shook it off, and kept skating.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

CNY Teenager Finds Winter Job in Clinton Square

Finding a winter job took on a whole new meaning for one Central New York teenager. Rachel Vansryke says she decided to work outside at the ice skating rink in Clinton Sq., rather than fold shirts at the Carousel Center.

"I love it here," she says. "I love my Boss. Everyone is awesome. It just gets cold sometimes when you're stuck outside."

Think of Vansryke as the lifeguard of the rink. She stands off to the side, watching the ice to make sure everyone is behaving.

You'd expect
Vansryke to be an accomplished ice skater since she's worked at the ice rink since December. And, she gets to skate free of charge.

But, Vansryke says she's still a terrible ice skater. She says her co-workers have tried to teach her how to skate, but she can't stop falling.

"I can't say I'm the greatest," she says. "I look at all other people I work with and I'm like, 'How do they do that?' And, they have fun picking on me about it too."

Vansryke has two more weeks to improve before the ice rink closes on March 1st.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winterfest Bears visit Vintage Carnival

The Vintage Carnival takes places every year as one of the many events provided by Syracuse's Winterfest. It is an afternoon of food, fun and entertainment for senior citizens around the Central New York area to enjoy. Program director Bill Cooper said the event draws in about 100 people each year.

"We get a few regulars but each year we get a wide range of people," said Cooper. "It's just fun to come enjoy each others company."

The event included a performance by Nick Malpagano, an impersonator who did songs by Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, and Elvis.

One of the most traditional parts of the afternoon, however, was an appearance by the Winterfest bears, the symbol of the Syracuse carnival since it was first created 25 years ago. Sue Aviza started volunteering as a Winterfest bear back when her children when young and has continued ever since.

"I started volunteering about 15 years ago," said Aviza. "But after all these years you still get some new kid that does some weird thing every year, so it's fun."

Winter Wonderland on the Ice in Downtown Syracuse

Winterfest is going on for 12 days in Syracuse, and there's one activity that's been well-liked among people of all ages. Ice skating has been very popular since the event started last week. This week alone the Clinton Square Ice Rink is averaging around 140 more skaters per day.

Rink manager Rocky Kelly says the good weather and the publicity of the Olympics are reasons more people are coming to skate. It also helps that many Syracuse area students are off from school for President's week.

Kelly is thrilled that people are enjoying their time ice skating.

"The best thing about it is, I think the rink and skating experience puts a smile on everybody's faces," said Kelly.

While many people have had fun at the rink, there's one group that's stood out. Kelly says the grandparents absolutely love watching their grandchildren skate on the ice.

"They're tickled to see their grandkids out here. They come back, and they've been following them all winter long," said Kelly.

If you haven't been to the rink to skate during Winter Fest, you still have until February 28 to stop by the rink and check out other events such as ice sculpturing and wood carving.

Photo Courtesy of myself, David Suntup

Mother and Daughter Share Love of Art at Everson Museum

As the classroom empties at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, one little girl sits quietly at a table, molding an animal out of blue clay.

“I really like making clay stuff like the pig that I just made," Katherine Martellock, above, said. Katherine, 7, and her mom, J.L. Bach, traveled from Cazenovia Wednesday just to visit the Everson. Bach says real art experience is good for Katherine.

“For her to see art, it’s very important. For her to see museums, for her to get ideas,” she said.

Katherine’s knowledge and passion for art is very advanced for someone her age. Not long ago, they visited the Everson to see the “Turner to C├ęzanne” exhibit.

“She walked up to the Monets and said, ‘Mom, I’ve already seen those before,’” Bach said.

This week, the Everson is having a weeklong program called “Take a Break” where children ages 5 to 12 can do different artistic activities including art classes and touring the museum.

Manager of Education and Community Partnerships Amy Goodall-Ayres says the program is especially beneficial for children on school break this week.

“It’s a way to get the kids involved in something while they’re not in school and keep their brains fresh and imaginative,” she said.

As Katherine starts to mold a snake out of the same blue clay, Bach sits at the table and watches. Even though this mother and daughter traveled far, their faces show their love for art was worth the distance.

Child-Interactive "Beauty and the Beast" a Hit

Walt Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" asked, "Be our guest." That was not enough for the Magic Circle Children's Theater's version of the classic fairy tale. More than fifty children out of school for February Break crammed into the Spaghetti Warehouse (Above Right, from lakeeffectrunclub/ Wednesday to be part of a performance of "Beauty and the Beast."

The actors interacted with the children in character throughout the play by asking them what happened during the previous scene.

"We make our characters really dumb so that way we can get help from the children to know what they’re doing on stage and that way it interacts them a lot more," Navzad Dabu, who portrayed The Beast, said.

Children were also invited onto the stage to dance with the characters and act in different roles including the minister at the wedding between Belle and The Beast.

While their children were performing, parents were kept entertained by the Magic Circle actors' pop culture references, including a Spice Girls joke and a brief rendition of Diana's Ross "Love Don't Come Easy."

"I think the kids have more fun with the physicalities, the costumes, the particpation. The jokes are a lot of the time far more geared toward the adults," Dabu said.

Central New York's economy fairs better than nationwide

Unemployment rates nationwide have hovered near the double digit mark for the past several months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But central New York's economy, while by no means thriving, is better than the national average. Jerry Evensky, Professor of Economics at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University says part of the reason CNY has stayed above the curve is its steady housing market which was listed as one of the strongest real estate markets in the nation last year, according to

"Central New York never went so down as far as the overall economy..." Evensky says. "I mean we didn't get hit as hard because we didn't get caught up in so much of the crisis. Our housing didn't go whacko--either up or down--so we've sort of like muddled along, which turned out to be a good thing."

Unemployment rates were at 8.2 percent in Syracuse in December, 2009, while the nation as a whole saw it's rates hit 10.0 percent that month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But new data released by leading economic research firms including IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’, all report an estimated 1.6 to 1.8 million jobs created since the economic stimulus bill was implemented in the U.S. Evensky's not sure of that data, but says the stimulus bill has saved about two million jobs.

"It depends on how you look at it," Evensky says. "Let me put it this way: the numbers are a little bit obscure, but I think [the stimulus bill has] been significantly helpful. I think more would be better, personally. And they haven't spent all the money from it, so there is more there."

Not only are portions of 2009's stimulus bill still waiting to be spent, Congress is now considering adding a new smaller stimulus bill, the "jobs bill." As it's being called the spending from this bill will focus primarily on job creation. A version of it was passed in the House of Representatives in December, and it is currently under consideration in the Senate.

"The politics of it are it's very small as of now, so it probably won't have a big effect," Evensky says. "If they get a big one through, I think that'd be good. But the one they're talking about, because of the way the Senate works--60 votes--it's probably going to be very small."

Everson Museum of Art Puts New Twist on Old Breaks

Winter break for elementary school kids is about a comfortable couch and a few good cartoons. Volunteers at the Everson Museum of Art are trying to change that. And surprisingly, kids can’t get enough of it.

Everson is hosting “Take a Break” art classes until Friday. The classes are free, and each day’s art project has a little twist. This morning is was sculptures with recyclable materials.

8-year-old Sarah Stowell, in the class with her younger sister Laura, proudly showed off her sculpture and promised she would be back tomorrow

The classes try to break up the mundane days of Winter break, but Amy Goodall, manager of Education and Community Partnerships, says it’s just about getting messy and having fun.

“Parents don’t want the mess in their houses, and the kids love it…I keep having to turn kids away because the classes fill so quickly”.

The classes continue Thursday and Friday from 10-12, but if you can’t make it this break, don’t worry. Goodall says "Take A Break" will be back for spring break in April.

Jessie James to Sing National Anthem

Syracuse Crunch fans are in for more than just cold weather and good hockey at this weekend’s Mirabito Outdoor Classic. Fans will get to see pop icon Jessie James perform the national anthem before the game.

Local record owner Ulf Oesterle was instrumental in bringing the young singer to Syracuse. Oesterle said he was approached several weeks ago by the Crunch to find a nationally known singer for the national anthem. Weeks later, James was the choice. Oesterle thinks she’s a great fit for the event.

“She’s done the national anthem before for NASCAR events so really it was a perfect situation to bring her in and I was glad that we could work the deal out,” Oesterle said earlier today.

The Crunch take on the Binghamton Senators at 1 p.m. this Saturday at the State Fairgrounds. The game will be the first outdoor game in AHL history and has a chance to set the all-time attendance record for a minor league hockey game.

A Blast from the Past

It's no secret that the industry of Syracuse has dwindled over the years. It's no surprise that the deterioration of industry has led to population decline. Fortunately for Syracuse natives, there is a place where one can be reminded of the good old days.

The Onondaga Historical Association is featuring a new exhibit called "The Salt City Comes of Age: Syracuse During the Impressionist Era." The exhibit features what was happening in Syracuse from 1880-1916. The event is complimentary to the Everson Museum's "From Turner to Cezanne" exhibit.

Visitors can browse through artwork, clothing, artifacts, products, and other things that shaped the city of Syracuse during the impressionist era. Syracuse industry boomed in late 19th century into the early 20th century, and so in turn did the population. According to the 1890 Census, population increased by 70% at the turn of the century.

Many who live in the Syracuse area don't know how the city came to be known as the "salt city." Visitors will find out that answer and more if they visit the Onondaga Historical Association.

"Take a Break!" Gives Students a Break from Break

While winter break means no early alarms or homework for students, it can also mean long days spent on the couch. Fortunately, the education coordinator at the Everson Museum of Art found a way to get 15 Syracuse boys and girls out and about.

"This time of year, things become very mundane and sort of routine for kids. This is something new and exciting and allows them to express themselves creatively," says Education Coordinator Victoria Gray.

Gray is holding "Take a Break!" sessions this week at the Everson Museum of Art for elementary school students. With the help of volunteer Marilyn Post, the two women lead gallery explorations, set up art projects and play games with the kids for two hours every morning.

Post says having the program allows the kids to interact with new people and engage their creative sides.

"With many of the kids, we use a system called visual thinking strategy. We tour each exhibition and try to have [them] really look at things. It's a cross-over skill that helps them improve writing and logic," Post says.

Phillip Tam, 8, says he is having a great time because the sessions keep him busy.

"I made a collage and had a tour," he said while drawing a picture of curvy lines and shyly hiding his smile.

The program ends Friday, but Gray says she holds art classes for kids throughout the year.

Wednesday Disco DJ at Funk 'n Waffles

Mike Dimpfl is a master's student at SUNY ESF studying the human dimensions of water use. Dimpfl recently moved to Syracuse after living in Brooklyn for ten years, where he said he did a lot of DJing. Looking for a way to split up his week doing something he loves, Dimpfl began Mittwok: A Hump-Day Disco Fanasta!

Dimpfl first got the idea for his mid-week disco show after talking with Adam Gold, one of the owners of Funk 'n Waffles. Gold had the equipment and Dimpfl had the skills, so the two organized the mid-week funk and disco show.

When DJing, Dimpfl uses the name Dr. and Mrs. Tumnus, a name he says came from an inside joke with his friends. Dimpfl says they would talk about how most DJs had singular names, so he decided to develop, as he calls it, his own split personality.

The name of the set, Mittwok: A Hump-Day disco Fanasta also has a story behind it. Dimpfl says his friends from New York City use the phrase "fanasta" all the time. Dimpfl also says he spent part of his childhood in Germany. Mittwok is the German word for Wednesday, and thus, the name was born.

Dimpfl says he plans to continue DJing at Funk 'n Waffles every Wednesday from 11 am until 2:30 pm.

Safe Space for Kids

The kids may be excited that it is February break, but for some parents, this means the added pressure of figuring out a safe place to send their kids. The "Safe Space for Kids" program at the Erwin First United Methodist Church offers a solution for 25 of these families.

The free program, meant for low income families, is a mix of education and activities. Each day the kids enjoy trips to educational locations, like the Onondaga Historical Society and Museum of Science and Technology. They also participate in activities like bowling, ice skating and arts and crafts.

"It's an enriched environment where they get to do things and see things that they would probably not otherwise be able to do or see," Revered Wendy Rhodehamel says.

"Safe Space for Kids" lasts until Friday, from 8:30 until 5:00 each day. Although registration is full for this break, the program is definitely something for parents to consider for next year's February break.

Volunteers Do Tax Returns

There are 57 days left until the April 15th income tax return deadline. Many people struggle with their tax returns, whether it's understanding how to do it or being able to afford an accountant. But the AARP offers help for both cases.

The Petit Branch of the Onondaga County Public Library is just one of many locations throughout the Syracuse area and throughout the country that host the AARP Tax Aide program. Instead of paying an accountant do their tax returns, people schedule appointments with volunteers to get their taxes done for free.

The volunteers are not Certified Public Accountants, though. "One person is a retired pediatrician, another person is a retired teacher, another person is a retired professor of forestry, and the last person is still working but has Wednesdays off, so she helps us out," said Pat Druger, who is the Electronic Records Originator that files people's tax returns from her home computer through an online program called E-File.

All volunteers go through three days of training in January in a program called Tax Wise, which the IRS supplies. The five volunteers at the Petit Branch Library work two days a week from February 1 through April 15 and file approximately 200 returns a year.

77 year old speed skater

Dick Senecal makes sure he spends at least an hour every day skating at the Sunnycrest Ice Rink on Syracuse's East Side. He says even at 77 years old he continues to skate to stay in shape and because he just likes it.

Senecal started skating competitively at the age of 15 for the Syracuse Speed Skating Club and for LeMoyne University's speed skating team. During his junior year at LeMoyne, Senecal and the team won the Dartmouth Winter Carnival North American Intercollegiate Speed Skating Championship. He says most people did not know the team existed but the trophy is still on display at the university.

Senecal says he stopped skating competitively for about 30 years, but in 1990 he started training again to qualify for the Empire State games. He says "miraculously after not having skated all those years I qualified the very first race I was in."
Speed skating is still a big part of Senecal's life. This Saturday and Sunday he will be a judge or a timer for the Empire State Winter Games in Lake Placid.

Church program brings children together for winter break

Children are attending lots of activities this winter break to keep busy. However, one program is keeping to their usual schedule, in the basement of University United Methodist Church.

Project Connection is a community center serving the Eastside of Syracuse providing youth enrichment programs for kids with developmental disorders, as well as typical children. Activities include anything from tutoring to recreational opportunities.

They are funded by the City of Syracuse, New York State and the Federal Government with stimulus money. Resources are made available for any intervention for any family member. Food, shelter, employment, transportation etc...

Michelle Krebs, the program assistant, said that the interaction between kids who have disorders and kids who don't, provides a very optimal environment because they learn from eachother.

"I've been coming here for the past four years and I have a lot of fun making friends and interacting," 13-year-old Michael McCoy said about Project Connection.

Safe Space for Kids Program

The Erwin First United Methodist Church hosts a program while schools are out for winter break. This program is called "Safe Space for Kids" and provides children with a safe place to go during the day when their parents are at work.

This is the third year that the church has done this program. It takes 25 children between the ages of eight and twelve years old each winter break.

With the program, children receive two meals per day, games, arts and crafts, and activities away from the church. For instance, today the kids were taken to Beaver Lake Nature Center today and had story time presented by the Onondaga Historical Society.

The "Safe Space for Kids" program is almost entirely run by volunteers. As the church's Treasurer and Trustee chair, Terry Richmond, explained, "Somebody helps out with cooking, somebody helps out with serving meals and so forth. They arrange activities. They've done a number of things to keep the kids busy every day."
Richmond added that the church hopes to make this a city-wide program that would cover all school breaks rather than just winter break.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Local News by Local Reporters

This is the place 17 intrepid radio news reporters from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications will post text versions of their stories in the spring of 2010. The stories will include photos and graphics and hyper-links to bring maximum usefulness to readers and maximum exercise of reporting skills to the women and men in this version of the NCC Newsroom. We'll post every week on Wednesday and usually on Thursday as well as on other days when the spirit moves us. You can also find the work of these reporters on The Newshouse and on Twitter.