Thursday, March 24, 2011



Author Julia Dostal and artist Mark Drnek sign copies of “Click Saves The Day” Saturday, March 12, at the Green Toad Book Store.  The book is part of the anti-gambling curriculum developed for LEAF Inc., the local anti-drinking and anti-dependency agency.    Dozens of kids showed up for the accompanying puppet show created by Carol Mandigo, a LEAF educator formerly associated with the Catskill Puppet Theater.

Oneonta’s Ryan Winchester Gains Eagle Rank In Milford BSA Troop

Ryan Winchester, Oneonta, who attends Milford Central School and is active in Troop 31 there, has just received the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank, Eagle.
Ryan has been in scouting since becoming a Tiger in first grade; he is now in ninth.
His Eagle service project was renovating the pavilion at Milford’s Wilber Park, painting, installing new railings and fencing (protecting pavilion users from stray fly balls), and building a handicapped accessible ramp.
The project required 300 hours of work between March and November 2010, and $1,800 in supplies, purchased through donations and bottle drives.  His fellow scouts assisted him.

Ryan Winchester at the renovated Milford pavilion.

Akiva Garfield, 10, Sets Another NY Swim Record

He’s only 10, but Akiva Garfield has broken another state swimming record, completing the 50-yard breaststroke event in 36.91 seconds Sunday, March 20, at the YMCA State Swimming Finals in Nassau Aquatic Center on Long Island.
Akiva, a Center Street School fifth grader who swims for the Oneonta Family Y Orcas, broke his first state record at age 8.
He is the son of Dr. Robert Garfield and Anne Green.



Eric Mazarak helps MSO Downtown Coordinator David Hayes lash an “Oneonta, Life Enjoyed” banner to the billboard on the north end of the South Main Street viaduct, welcoming visitors to town.  Mazarak’s father, John, the retired SUNY Oneonta professor and photographer, provided the image of the black-eyed Susan used in the city’s new logo.

Parisian Family Transformed Tragedy Into Accomplishment

Trooper Ricky Parisian

 Since death is part of life, all of us face – or will face – tragedy in various guises, and respond in varied ways.
When it arrives, let’s keep in mind the exceptional Parisian family that responded in such an exceptional way to the unfair and unexpected death of a loved one, State Trooper Ricky “Pit” Parisian, who was killed on May 20, 1994, trying to stop an armed robbery at a Southside supermarket.
Fate was cruel to the Parisians.  But the family was unwilling to accept their loved one’s death as the end of the story.
That very October, the family organized the first “Pit Run,” a 10K race – a 5K and a walkathon have since been added, plus a picnic, music and games – in remembrance.
“The day is designed to celebrate Rick’s life by bringing the community together for a fun, healthy afternoon of outdoor activities,” according to, the event’s Web site.
Proceeds – more than a quarter-million has been distributed in the past 17 years – help underwrite college scholarships for young people who are courteous, honest, caring, responsible – all the qualities of the namesake.
The money has been used to send young people on Rotary Exchange Programs to Costa Rica, Italy and Slovakia, to study Irish history in Dublin, to participate in an opera in France.
The scholarships helped send Marcel Sanchez to MIT, Thomas Vogler to Bucknell, Caroline Kang to the Eastman School of Music, Kristin France to Williams.
Alec Macaulay graduated magna cum laude from Cornell, Genevieve Bernier from Geneseo (she went on to a Ph.D. at Virginia Commonwealth), Jonathan Hojn from SUNY Albany.
Ricky Parisian’s legacy could have been bitterness, but it’s been quite the opposite due to true devotion of a family that was stricken but not struck down by tragedy.
Last Saturday evening, March 19, the St. Mary’s School community honored the Parisian family, from Al, the father of the family, to his children and children-in-law, including Ricky’s widow Deb, to his grandchildren, with the St. Mary’s School 2011 Distinguished Education Partner Award.
It was a delightful evening at The Gables, as you can imagine.  (We can’t write about it with mentioning chef Bob Eklund’s beef tenderloin, rolled in pepper and garlic.  Exceptional!)
State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, presented the family with a resolution passed a few days before on the Senate floor in Albany, and Mayor Miller declared March 19 “Parisian Family Day in Oneonta.”
St. Mary’s Principal Patricia Bliss presented Al Parisian – he and his wife, Margaret, ran a weekly Bingo game for years, to benefit the school – with a clock.  “Time is the most precious thing anyone can give,” she said.
Some may think community life is humdrum; quite the opposite.  The Parisian family’s story has it all.  Tragedy, grief, then renewal and accomplishment, accomplishment that through the scholarship winners will be carried forward into innumerable generations in ways we can’t know.
Friends, tragedy has stricken all of us and will come again.  It’s the human condition.  But let’s reflect on Parisians’ story, gain inspiration from it, and declare to a family who we can all be proud of:  Well done.

The Parisian family was honored with the St. Mary’s School 2011 Distinguished Education Partner Award with a dinner at The Gables.  Standing, from left, are Lisa Parisian,  Jennifer McGrath, Edythe Parisian, Scott Georgia, Janice Currie, David Currie, Mark Parisian, Deb Parisian, Steve Parisian.  In front are Al Parisian and, at left, his granddaughter Cheryl Parisian.

PATRICIA BLISS IN APPRECIATION: Al, Margaret Parisian Embraced ‘Call To Serve’

Editor’s Note:  These are excerpts from Principal Patricia Bliss’ remarks Saturday, March 19, on presenting the 2011 St. Mary’s School Distinguished Partners in Education to the Parisian family.

St. Mary’s School has been blessed with many wonderful benefactors over the years. 
The Distinguished Partner in Education Award was developed as a means to publicly show our appreciation to those who have supported our mission, our philosophy and our ideals, with gifts of their time, talent and treasure. 
We all know how valuable time is and we know that to share your time with someone is one of the greatest of gifts that one can give.
Those of us who have St. Mary’s at the core of our lives believe that our success is reflected in our children. We encourage all to be visible witnesses of Christ by instilling a sense of responsibility and service to his or her community and sensitivity to the call for a just society. 
The Parisian family has embraced those same ideals.  The call to serve was modeled by Al and Margaret Parisian, as they helped out at St. Mary’s Church through bake sales, the parish festivals, and as an usher; at St. Mary’s School in the PTO, Bingo, and to help out at lunch time; or the Oneonta community, with Meals on Wheels and Election Day bake sales. 
Those are a few of the ways  Mr. and Mrs. Parisian were an integral part of the Oneonta community.  It is a partnership between family, church, school, and the community.  We support one another through good times and bad.  And this sense of community service is ingrained in the whole Parisian family.  It is part of who they are. 
And when tragedy struck the Parisian family when son Ricky, a state trooper, was killed serving the community he loved, the family turned their grief into faith and increased sense of service to church and community by starting a foundation to support the many needs of the people of the greater Oneonta community. 
And St. Mary’s School is one of the many groups that are supported by this foundation.  Over the years, The Parisian Foundation has provided funding for the art, music and technology programs at St. Mary’s, as well as funding for equipment for our phys-ed classes, our playground and ball field.  
And so this evening, we, the community of St. Mary’s School, along with your family and friends, want to thank you for your gift of time, talent and treasure. 

“To share your time with someone is one of the greatest of gifts that one can give,” said Principal Bliss in presenting an engraved clock to Al Parisian.

Helping Poor Will Challenge Samaritans

The War on Poverty dates back to LBJ’s State of the Union speech in 1964, but Opportunities for Otsego is still fighting the fight.
In the past decade, its Wheels To Work program has sold used cars, $750 each, to 200 Otsego County families who, living off the OPT lines, wouldn’t have been able to get to jobs otherwise.
Its Homelessness Intervention Grants provide emergency rent payments to people, many of whom have lost their jobs, who would lose the roofs over their heads without it.
CSBGs – Community Services Block Grants – helped OFO create the homeless shelter on Depew Street, which has been 80 percent occupied for the past year, mostly families with children, 300 individuals in all.
CSBGs also created a shelter for victims of family violence – mothers and children – in a locale unspecified, for obvious reasons, and OFO provides them with legal help and counseling as well.
“There is no other option for the folks who depend on us,” Gary Herzig, OFO’s chief operating officer, said in an interview the other day.  “If we can’t help a homeless family, there is no place else they can go for help.”
Contrary to the stereotype, 70 percent of OFO’s client are working people, but working in fast-food, quick-stops, the tourism trade; many of them simply can’t make ends meet, Herzig said.
The poverty level for a family of four is $24,000, he said:  Think about how far that goes.
Right now, in particular, none of this is academic, since Congress and the General Assembly in Albany are debating how much to cut all these programs, plus HEAP (heating assistance), Head Start (for pre-schoolers) and much more.
How much?  “That’s completely up in the air,” Herzig said.
With the looming threats, he and the CFO, Amy Vogel, have been thinking of ways to raise funds to make up as much as possible for likely shortfalls.
As it happens, OFO is marking its 45th year of service – the sapphire anniversary – so one idea was a celebration, which grew into a gala planned Saturday, May 7, at SUNY Oneonta’s Hunt Union ballroom.
The evening will also honor Ron Ranc and Roxana Hurlburt of ISD, the local technology company that has assisted OFO in a variety of endeavors.
Other plans are also in the offing, Herzig said.
OFO’s fate is not just important to our most vulnerable neighbors, as it is one of the major employers in the county, with more than 200 people working in sites that range from Schenevus to Richfield Springs to Oneonta’s several sites.
OFO’s budget is $9 million, and 90 percent of that is spent locally, Vogel said.  The multiplier effect would suggest that creates more than $20 million in spending power over the years.
The county’s political delegation has been accessible to OFO, Herzig said, but it’s a tough time.
OFO President Dan Maskin met just last week with U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, elected in November.
“He was sympathetic of what we do,” Herzig related, “but...”

OFO Chief Operating Officer Gary Herzig and CFO Amy Vogel are combatting budget cuts.

Facing Cuts, OFO Aims To Still Serve The Needy

Demolition First, Then New Outlet: T.J.Maxx Store Due, And Shoe Department Plans Big Expansion

Oneonta’s been Demolition City lately, what with the razing of the back end of Bresee’s, the former L.P. Butts hardware and, now, the former Kmart at Southside Mall.
But as with the first two, Southside Mall is taking one step back to take two steps – or more – forward.
A backhoe from Champagne Demolition Inc., Albany, has been cutting back the mall’s west end to align it with the rest of the 1982 footprint, said Mall Manager Jessica Dombrowski.
T.J.Maxx, the aggregator of national clothing brands, is on track to open in part of that space sometime this summer.
In the course of the conversation, though, Dombrowski mentioned that, despite the national economic malaise, Southside Mall is 97 percent occupied.
Then she let on that, while Fashion Bug is closing, The Shoe Department plans to cross the aisle from its smallish store into that space, plus expand into the Music Square on one side and Etc., Etc. on the other.
The result will be an Encore Store, a Shoe Department outlet that offers a greater variety of brand-name shoes than one of its regular stores.
Back to T.J.Maxx, based in Framingham, Mass.  (Shoe Department is in Concord.)
“We pursued them,” said Dombrowski, “because we really felt the quality brand names they have would be beneficial to Oneonta.”
T.J.Maxx, in turn, was attracted by the tourism and the colleges here, and its studies also determined an outlet here was far enough away not to compete with its Albany and Binghamton stores.
“They really felt they would have new customers here,” said the 5-year manager, a native of Syracuse who lived locally with her husband and two children.
The mall owners, Fameco Management Services, Plymouth Meeting, Pa., is doing the demolition, removing 17,000 square feet, and rebuilding a shell to T.J.Maxx’s specifications.
T.J.Maxx will then takeover, renovating the interior to its needs.  Another unit will also be available in the former Kmart space.  Southside has some nibbles, but nothing to announce yet.
The demolition will also allow more parking at the mall’s west end, and the entrance from Route 23 is being redone to enhance flow onto and off the property.

Brett – just Brett – maneuvers the Champagne Demolition Inc. backhoe, cutting back the former Kmart to align it with front of the rest of Southside Mall.  TJ Maxx will be moving in this summer.

Sam Nader, Buck Showalter, Together Again


‘What the heck are you doing here?” Buck Showalter said in surprise as he entered the ballroom at the swank Hyatt Sarasota for a mid-February speech.
“He was surprised to see me,” said Sam Nader, the former Oneonta mayor who’s been wintering in Venice, Fla.  Buckwalter, currently the Baltimore Orioles manager, had gotten his start in 1985 and 1986 with the Oneonta Yankees, then owned by Nader.
Nader said he’d seen an item in the paper that Showalter, on Florida’s west coast for spring training, would be speaking at the February luncheon of the Sarasota Area Sports Authority.
“There’s the guy who gave me my first break, in Oneonta, N.Y. – a place you’ve never heard of,” Buck told the crowd, according to Foti.
During the 45-minute speech, “he kept referring back to Oneonta and Sam,” said the mayor’s pal.  Said Sam, “He talked very favorably about Oneonta.”
Reached by phone the other day, Nader and Foti had just returned from an exhibition game between the Orioles and the Yankees, using tickets his former manager had given them.
Some tickets, too: They sat just behind Yankees GM Brian Cashman.(It was 73 degrees and clear the afternoon of Tuesday, March 22; meanwhile, 7 inches of snow were predicted locally.)
“He was quite a guy,” Nader recalled of Showalter. “He had his goals and objectives all set.  As a matter of fact, I think we set a record for wins both years.  He was a go-getter from the start.”
In 1987, George Steinbrenner sent an envoy, Sal Smith, to scout the Yankee minor-league teams for talent.
At Damaschke Field, he asked Nader, “Who do you like?”
“Take a look at the manager,” Sam said.
It wasn’t long before Steinbrenner called up Showalter to manage the Yanks. (In the 20 years since, he managed the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers before joining the Orioles.)
“When Buck was appointed (to the Yankees,) Sal said, ‘Buck ought to kiss you’,” Nader recalled.

Thankful For Grandson’s Health, Grandmom Will Be At Heart Walk


When Connor Tavarone was born 14 years ago at Bassett Hospital, his parents were given the usual advice. Let us know if he sleeps too much, or if he won’t eat. 
At first he was fine, but those very symptoms appeared after four or five days.
When mom Kelly and dad Rich took him back to
Bassett, it was discovered that baby Connor was suffering from truncus arteriosis: Instead of two main blood vessels leaving the heart – the aorta carry blood to the body and the pulmonary artery taking blood to the lungs – he had only one large blood vessel leaving the heart.
The baby was soon in Albany Medical Center, then sent on to Boston Children’s Hospital, where a surgeon installed a graft separating the pulmonary artery from the main trunk.
He was eight days old.
It was an anxious time, but it emphasized the importance of medical research to the whole family, including grandmom Nancy Garrison, who said in an interview the other day, “If it had happened 20 or 30 years ago, he might not be here.”
As it was, advanced medical practices allowed Connor to grow into a healthy young man. Within six months he was hale and hearty.
Now an eighth–grader at Oneonta Middle School, he plays baseball and basketball and, not only is he full energy, he’s polite, Mrs. Garrison avers.
“When he was 5, he and Tyler (his older brother) were already holding the door for me. And they still do,” said the former secretary at SUNY Oneonta and U.S. Sen. Patrick Moynihan’s local Office; she still works parttime at Elm Park Methodist Church.
As a result of their experience, however, the family the following September drove up to Albany en masse for America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk, joining 1,000 people at the annual fundraiser.
They did it for several years, with Nancy’s sister, Anne Lyman of Loudonville and her husband. Ed, joining them.
For me past half-dozen years, they been able to do so at home, as they will Saturday. March 26, at SUNY Oneonta Dewar Arena.
Nancy Garrison is a believer in such events, even though this year, slowed by rheumatoid arthritis, her sister Sally Gage will be walking for her.

Nancy Garrison shows off a photo of her grandson, Connor Tavarone, healthy today thanks to heart-disease research.

Musica, Maestros!


SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski curtsies after her guest conductor stint when the Catskill Symphony Orchestra performed Saturday, March 19, at the college’s Alumni Field House.  She bested two other guest conductors in directing Sousa’s “Stars & Stripes Forever.”

“Tony” showed up as another guest conductor, but not THAT one.  It was Tony Avanzato, radio personality and Ristorante Stella Luna proprietor, who sang “O Sole Mio.”  Fox Hospital CEO John Remillard also conducted.  The annual event raised $26,000 for the CSO.

City of The Hills: Emergency Lifted After Main Fixed

Mayor Miller lifted a water emergency at 4:05 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, 23 hours after a 100-year-old, 20-inch main burst between the city’s reservoirs and the water plant on East Street.
The main was 35 feet below Meadowbrook Lane, and crews from the city and towns of Oneonta and Otego dug through the night, reaching the pipe at 7:30 a.m.  A 12-foot section of pipe was replaced.
The mayor expected it would take until the end of the day Wednesday to fill the crater and reopen Meadowbrook Lane.

SALE NEARS:  The sale of Wilber National Bank is expected to be complete by Friday, April 8, with accounts transferred to Community Bank, Syracuse, the following Monday, the 10th.

FATE IN BALANCE: The St. Mary’s school board has forwarded its undisclosed recommendation on the future of the school to the Diocese of Albany school board, which is expected to refer the final decision to Bishop Howard Hubbard.

EVER SMALLER:  NanoDays, a national celebration of nanotechonology – making tiny things smaller – will be marked locally noon-4 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at OWL’s Discovery Center at SUNY Oneonta. For details, reservations, visit

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, presents a Senate Proclamation to Al Parisian, father of the family cited Saturday, March 19, as St. Mary School’s 2011 Distinguished Partner in Education. (More, A4)