March 31, 2007

Angling for success

Upcoming trout season keeping things busy at Cortland Line Co.

Cortland Line

Bob Ellis/satff photographer
Cortland Line Store manager Joe Wegzyn ties a fly at the store Friday afternoon in preparation for the upcoming fishing season, which opens Sunday.

Staff Reporter
CORTLANDVILLE — The customers steadily arrived at the Cortland Line Co. Factory Store on Route 281, some to pick up a kayak, others to find the right tackle in preparation for Sunday, the first day of trout fishing in New York state.
While on his way to visit his son’s family in Horseheads, Dan Vaughn, of Oneida, stopped by the store to browse for a bit.
“It was on the way, and I just wanted to stop by and take a look, see if they’ve got anything new or interesting,” Vaughn said.
He has a boat in storage in Horseheads, and plans on taking it out on Sunday for an outing with his grandson.
“We’ve been doing it for the last three years. My grandson is about 7, and we’re trying to get this tradition going where he goes out with his grandfather every year for opening day,” Vaughn said, adding that after fishing, a good breakfast would be in order — and perhaps more fishing after that. Horseheads stocks a pond with fish for the children, he said.
“Tomorrow, I’ll be swamped,” Cortland Line Co. Factory Store manager, Joe Wegzyn, of Cortland, said Friday morning. “The streams basically have cleaned-up — yeah, they’re cool, but it’s going to be a good opener.”
A 20-year veteran of Cortland Line Co., Wegzyn said that although the Tioughnioga River is still a bit high, the smaller streams, and especially Grout Brook, should have plenty of trout for the patient angler.
“A lot of people travel long distances to fish, but this area has some excellent fishing,” Wegzyn said as he looked at the hills outside the windows of the store. “I can take you 10 miles from the store and find some great fishing.”
Durkee Memorial Park in Homer, along the Tioughnioga River, is just one good, local and underutilized_location.
“It’s just such a beautiful area, and people don’t use these parks — and they’re free, and they’re right there. A couple of New York state records have been taken out of the Tioughnioga,” Wegzyn said.
A record 3-pound, 7-ounce fallfish was pulled out of the river in Cortland County, and a 35 pound, 8-ounce Tiger muskellunge was caught in the Tioughnioga in Broome County, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Web site.
But Cortland’s main claim to fame in the fishing world is the Cortland Line Co., a local, employee-owned business that is recognized as the world’s leader in fly fishing line, rods and reels.
Founded in 1915 by Ray Smith, a local merchant and avid fisherman, the company’s original silk fly fishing lines were gradually overtaken by more advanced technologies, resulting in a steady stream of cutting edge products.
A display case in the entrance to the factory store holds old spools of line and antique fly reels, and the wall is covered in photographs that range from a shot of Smith standing in front of a large sailfish hanging on a pier in Florida, to current Cortland Line Co. employees fishing for large mouth bass on Little York Lake.
Over 2,500 braiding machines braid fishing line 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 52 weeks a year at the company’s factory on Kellogg Road in Cortlandville, Dablock said.
“Normally, our busy time is kind of like winter into early spring, because basically our dealers, our pro shops, are stocking their stores in the winter, so in theory, they’re ready to go now,” Dablock said Friday afternoon. “It’s normally a huge push, stocking up in the fall, getting everything going, then normally, January-February-March are really big shipping months for getting the products out to the stores.”
Although the foot traffic falls off a bit during the winter months, Wegzyn said that he is kept busy filling orders and answering questions for anglers in Europe and Japan.
He also teaches fly-tying classes throughout the year, at a table cluttered with the materials that can mimic insects, and even mice, to appeal to hungry fish.
“I just got done with a fly-tying class, but I leave this stuff up year round,” Wegzyn said as he looked over one of the six fly-tying vices on the table. “I’m always showing people how to do things — when you come here, you get an education.”
The store has had “a banner year” for fly-tying materials, and Wegzyn said that after a short slump, the sport seems to have taken off again.
“I’m kind of a local guru here — not just a cashier,” Wegzyn said. “I keep no secrets, either.”
He emphasized that anglers do not need to keep their tackle in storage until April, either, because many of the streams have different regulations than the state as a whole.
For a list of the regulations governing local bodies of water on the Internet, visit



Multi-unit housing moratorium proposed

Conversion and construction would be delayed until Dec. 31

Staff Reporter

Alderwoman Susan Feiszli has requested the imposition of a housing moratorium be added to the agenda for the Common Council’s meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The moratorium she seeks would be for the conversion of single-family homes into multi-unit housing, as well as construction of new structures for multi-unit housing in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th wards until Dec. 31.
Feiszli, a Democrat representing the 6th Ward, said she picked these wards “because it’s manageable to do a smaller area than the whole city.” She said she had brought up the idea a while back to the council when looking at zoning in the city.
Feiszli said the moratorium would allow the city to look at its housing needs, particularly in conjunction with SUNY Cortland and its need for student housing, and zoning issues in these wards.
“It’s time to step back and look at what’s happening in our neighborhood,” Feiszli said.
She said she was not targeting John Del Vecchio, a local developer, who has proposed a controversial conversion into student housing to the former George Brockway home on 19 W. Court St. in the city’s second ward.
His plan would add an apartment to the main house by converting office space. The house already has three apartments, in addition to the office space. In addition, Del Vecchio plans to raze the garage and build a six-unit apartment building.
Del Vecchio is also proposing a 30-unit apartment complex on North Greenbush Street in Feiszli’s ward, which is behind Resource Associates at 27 N. Church St., where Feiszli works.
Feiszli said she did not know if the moratorium could stop the Del Vecchio project on West Court Street. She said she did not expect any action on the moratorium other than discussion.
Del Vecchio said he was not aware of the request for the additional agenda item, but said it would not apply to his 19 W. Court St. project because it is already in the planning process. “I do plan on building that project there,” he said.


Loss of federal funds cuts services to farmers

Staff Reporter

A key tool for protecting farmland and resuscitating struggling area dairy farms has lost federal funding for this year.
Local agriculture groups are lobbying to see that funding is returned for 2008.
The GrazeNY program, which assists farmers with setting up rotational grazing for livestock rather than barn-feeding, saw its federal funding rescinded this year, with the takeover of a new Democratic majority.
The funding had been earmarked in federal Agriculture Appropriations since 1996, but after numerous failed attempts to pass a permanent appropriations bill for 2007 throughout much of 2006, both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted in January to rescind all earmarks, or individual pet projects, for this fiscal year, with the intent of renegotiating them for 2008.
The earmarked funding that has gone directly to Cortland County, while modest, is critical to promoting healthy farms in the area, according to Amanda Barber, manager of the county’s Soil and Water Conservation District.
The $30,000 the SWCD receives essentially funds one position that can be devoted entirely to helping farmers set up grazing systems on their farms, Barber said.
Similarly, Barber said, the local chapter of the Cornell Cooperative Extension receives approximately $30,000, and the loss of that funding will prevent further focused outreach to farmers in need.
Grazing is beneficial to many smaller farms because, once a system is implemented, it reduces feed, operating and labor costs, Barber said, and it improves the health of a herd.
The SWCD provides education, direct technical assistance and maintenance assistance afterward in setting up grazing systems, and to date it has helped set up such systems for 70 farms in Cortland County.
“It really takes a lot of education and fostering on our part, because when you think about it, it almost seems like you’re going backwards, because you’re using less equipment and less technology,” Barber said, noting that SWCD staff put in about 120 hours of work in helping to implement a single system.
“Really you’re taking a more scientific approach to more traditional practices, and using it to your benefit, but it takes some work to get farms to realize how much help it can be.”
The SWCD, with the assistance of the federal funding, has also worked to secure grants to help with the transition to a grazing system, bringing in a total of $650,000 in various types of grant money for individual Cortland County farmers since the program began.
The Cooperative Extension provides similar outreach, according to small farms educator Fay Benson, along with assistance in grazing rationing and soil testing.


McGraw attack, break-in reported

Staff Reporter

The County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a report of a suspicious person who has been spotted numerous times in the village late at night, and who may be linked to an attack on a female and a break-in in McGraw last week.
At about 10:30 p.m. March 20, a man wearing a black ski mask and dark clothing grabbed a woman walking in the area of South and Elm streets and pushed her to the ground.
The woman — who was able to kick the suspect and get away — described the man as about 6 feet tall with a stocky build, and said he was wearing dark clothing and a ski mask, according to Sgt. Jason Newcomb.
The man, who approached the woman from behind, did not say anything to the woman, did not steal anything and his motive was unclear, Newcomb said.
Meanwhile at about 7 p.m. March 23, a white man with a similar description — 6 feet tall with dark clothes and a stocky build, this time with a black knit cap leaving his face visible — broke into a home in the Center Street area.
The man fled after being confronted by the homeowner, Newcomb said, and the homeowner was able to provide a description resulting in a composite sketch of the intruder.
Since March 23, the Sheriff’s Department has received four reports of a suspicious person in the East Main Street area, also wearing a black ski mask and dark clothing, Newcomb said.
Each reported sighting has been after midnight, he said, and all have come from the same resident.
At this point, police have no reason to believe that the person responsible knew the victim in either the March 20 attack or the March 23 break-in, Newcomb said, and police cannot be sure that the two incidents are related.
“We need to find out this person’s identity, so at this point we’re reaching out to the media and the community to see if anyone is able to identify him,” Newcomb said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at (607) 753-3311.