January 07, 2008


Chin whiskers sprout for bicentennial

County’s April 8 celebration will include beard growing contest


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer       
Joe Dovi and his son Lucas sport beards as members of Brothers of the Brush, a club re-formed for Cortland County’s Bicentennial that encourages county residents to grow beards. The club was originally created during the county’s sesquicentennial. Winners of various best beard categories will be named April 8 at a bicentennial celebration.

Staff Reporter

Things could get pretty hairy in Cortland as the county prepares to celebrate its bicentennial.
The Bicentennial Committee has reinstituted a 50-year-old tradition: the Brothers of the Brush, a group of men dedicated to growing beards.
“If you look at photos from 1808, you’ll find that many of the men in the time wore beards or moustaches of some kind,” said Jeremy Boylan, the county’s historian. “It’s kind of an honor to them, and a way to honor our past.”
Boylan has already started on his beard and has been encouraging others to join the Brotherhood, which was first instituted during the county’s 150th anniversary in 1958.
“It was a pretty big event,” Boylan said. “A lot of people got involved.”
The beard competition was not without its detractors in 1958, Boylan said. Some Cortland citizens felt the county’s 150th anniversary should be a serious, somber event.
“This put a fun kind of spin on it,” he said.
Beard season began Jan. 1 and will run through April 8, the date of the county’s founding.
Those interested can register at several local barbershops, including Mr. Alex, Judy’s Custom Cuts, Homer Coiffeur and the King’s Den.
Boylan said he hopes to expand that list.
Registration costs $1, which Boylan said is the same price as it was in 1958. That includes a Brothers of the Brush button, and, as Boylan put it, “the camaraderie of brotherhood.”
Proceeds will be used to offset bicentennial celebration costs, including the brotherhood pins and contest prizes.
Luke Dovi, the office manager for Dovi Motors on Tompkins Street Extension, has joined the brotherhood.
He said he and his father, Joe Dovi, routinely grow beards during the winter.
“My wife wishes it wasn’t so big and bushy,” Luke Dovi said. “Mom’s used to it, though.”
“They (our wives) said the beards have to be off by the time my sister gets married in August,” he said.
Abram Johnson, a science teacher at McGraw High School, said he is growing a full-face beard for the contest.
“This presents a really good opportunity to not get hassled by the wife,” he said. Johnson said he’s tried growing a beard before, but that his wife, Amy, has told him it’s “unattractive.”
Johnson said his students are not particularly supportive.
“I came back from Christmas break with the beginnings of a beard,” he said. Students have asked him if he is growing a “hunting beard” and told him to shave, he said.
A full beard is not a requirement to participate, Boylan said.
Chinstraps, muttonchops, goatees, handlebar moustaches and “Fu-Manchu” styles are all acceptable. Prizes will be awarded in several categories, including longest, fullest and most creative beards. Prizes have not been determined yet, but Boylan said electric shavers are a possibility.
“Side bets between co-workers, friends or family for quality and duration are encouraged,” Boylan said.
Judging will take place during the bicentennial celebrations on April 8, and the contest is open to all Cortland County men.
For those who decline to participate, the Brotherhood’s rules are clear: “Males who refuse to join the loyal fun organization shall open themselves to ridicule countywide.”




County committee posts decided

Staff Reporter

The committee assignments hammered out over the weekend by the Cortland County Legislature’s leadership show a strong emphasis on bipartisanship, with an equal number of chairmanships for both Democrats and Republicans on standing committees.
Two of the legislators who had the most to do with Legislature Chairman John Daniels’ ascension to the highest leadership position gained chairmanships on important committees. Newcomer Chad Loomis (D-8th Ward) will chair the General Services (formerly Buildings and Grounds) Committee, and Tom Williams (R-Homer) will take over the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
Loomis is a professional engineer at Cornell University and a member of the county Planning Board, and Williams is a former state trooper.
Daniels’ rival Democrat for the chairmanship, Carol Tytler (D-3rd Ward), will chair the Health Committee. This is her first committee chair position outside of the ad hoc space needs committee, set-up last year to deal with the county’s need for new and expanded facilities, such as a Department of Motor Vehicles office and a new jail.
Legislator Mike McKee (R-Cincinnatus, Freetown, Taylor and Willet) has moved to the Highway Committee for the first time and has been made chair.
The coveted Budget and Finance Committee chairmanship, usually the post awarded to the Majority Leader, has gone to John Troy (D-1st Ward), who actively sought that position on the committee but was not necessarily interested in his party’s leadership position.
Majority Leader Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil) has retained her post as chair of the Human Services Committee, and Minority Leader Danny Ross has stayed on as chairman of the Agriculture/Planning/Environmental Committee.
The only other committee chair holdover from the last Legislature was Larry Cornell (R-Marathon and Lapeer), who will continue to head the Personnel Committee.
Price said the balanced composition of the standing committees — responsible for the majority of the discussion and debate in the Legislature — was a “conscious effort.”
“Fair is fair,” Price said this morning. “There was no contention at all — it was more balancing and putting people’s talents and their political parties, taking all of those things into consideration as we made up the committees.”



Warm spell to bring record temperatures to region

Highs are expected to reach the upper 60s Tuesday; things will cool off by weekend

Staff Reporter

Record-breaking temperatures are moving through the Central New York area, according to the National Weather Service, and there is a possibility of minor flooding by Wednesday, officials said.
Highs are expected to reach the mid-50s today and approach 60 degrees Tuesday, said Theodore Champney, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Binghamton.
The record highs at the Binghamton airport for today and Tuesday are 57 and 63, respectively, and Champney said the chances are good that both will be broken.
The Weather Channel forecasts a high of 66 degrees for Cortland on Tuesday.
The unseasonably mild weather will probably eliminate most, if not all, of Cortland County’s snow cover.
Rain is expected Tuesday night as a cold front moves through the area, but Champney said precipitation probably will total about a half inch.
“It’ll cool off, but we’re still not going to be anywhere near normal,” he explained.
Local ski resorts such as Greek Peak and Labrador Mountain will be staying open throughout the week, despite the higher temperatures.
“We’ve got all kinds of snow, and the skiing’s been great,” said Rick Bunnell, Labrador’s marketing director.
Bunnell said Labrador’s staff spent extra time making snow at the beginning of the month in anticipation of coming warm temperatures.
Jeff Kryger, Greek Peak’s event coordinator, said all the trails open during the holiday season will remain open through this week.
“When it’s cold like it was, we increase snow production to build up a higher base,” he said.
Wednesday’s rain is expected to be accompanied by winds of 20 to 30 mph, which could cause isolated power outages and downed tree branches.
Champney said there will probably be a “better than 50 percent” chance of minor flooding in Cortland on Wednesday, with rivers such as the Tioughnioga expected to rise above their banks due to snow melting on hills. The river is now at 4.5 feet according to the National Weather Service; its flood stage is 8 feet.
However, the flooding threat will increase Friday when a second cold front moves into the area, pushing another system of rain and snow through the county.