A tenure of success evident in defeat


Bob Ellis/staff photographer      
Groton School Board President Nancy Thane, standing in front of the Groton High School, will be stepping down after serving 12 years on the board, the past four as president. Thane was defeated by six votes in the March 16 school board elections. 

Staff Reporter

GROTON — It came as a shock to some Board of Education members when 12-year board veteran Nancy Thane lost her seat in the May 16 election.
Thane, who lost to by six votes to newcomer Michael Lockwood, said the loss was not completely unexpected.
“Many people were very surprised, but I was not completely surprised,” said Thane, who served for two years as vice president and four as president. “Whenever anybody has been as forthright and out in front as I have, you have to expect that.”
Thane, 50, said spending more time with her family will be a bonus, but not working with board members she has grown close with will be the biggest downfall.
“I’m going to miss the people, I really enjoy working with the board and the superintendent,” she said. “They’re a wonderful group of people and I’m going to miss them.”
Board Vice President Dave Parsons said Thane’s defeat was something he did not expect.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “I’ve seen her when things are not pleasant and she’s been able to keep a stiff upper lip and go forward and I’ve also seen her when things are good and she rejoices in the progress that we made.”
Thane works full time as an itinerant teacher for the deaf through the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES. She has worked there for 20 years, traveling all over Tompkins County to consult with classroom teachers and help children with hearing loss.
Thane’s board term ends June 30, and she said she is confident the board will carry on in a positive direction.
“I think they are in good hands and I don’t have any immediate plans to involve myself in the school right now,” she said. “I’m very proud of the fact that I now have a functioning board of education who understands its role as the governing body of the school district.”
Lockwood, 26, came in second in the election to three-year board member Miriam Zubal.
Parsons has worked with Thane for nearly five years and said it is going to be hard to fill Thane’s spot.
“The decisions she makes are based on the things we need for the kids and she’s got a lot of knowledge,” Parsons said. “That’s a lot of knowledge we’re not going to have on the board anymore.”
Thane was on the board in 2002 when both the former board president Russ DeMond and former Superintendent of Schools Mary Lou Cronin resigned. The resignations followed the turmoil that resulted when DeMond fired Lee J. Cravotta, the interim elementary school principal, without the consent of the board.
Thane said she did not want to comment directly on those issues, but said the board has come a long way over the past four years.
“I hate to bring up all the past history, it’s done,” Thane said. “I learned a lot from watching what went on and how well-meaning people could make mistakes.
“I did a lot of reading and went to a lot of workshops and really studied up how it’s supposed to be, being the board president, and it is a bigger responsibility and larger job than a lot of people realize.”
After Thane’s last day, Parsons, 45, will be the member who has been serving on the board the longest. He said the board will make a decision on a new board president at its first meeting in July.
Thane said she is really going to miss working with Superintendent of Schools Brenda Myers, who was appointed in October.
“I’m excited about Dr. Myers and her initiative and where she’s going with the school,” Thane said. “To be a part of that — I’m really going to miss moving ahead and being a part of it with her.”
Myers said one of the reasons she decided to come to Groton was because of the board. Thane helped build goals for the board and communicated with all departments in the district, Myers said.
“They have thrived under Nancy’s leadership,” Myers said. “She has really been very supportive and helped to guide the board over the past few years.”




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Counties seek to increase their gas tax savings

Associated Press Writer

ALBANY — Counties may further cut costs at the gas pumps this summer now that the state has capped its tax on gasoline at 8 cents per gallon.
The Cortland County Legislature will discuss capping that tax during its monthly session Thursday night.
“We are going to discuss this at both caucuses,” said Legislature Chairman Marilyn Brown (D-8th Ward). “I want to see how everybody feels about it, and we need to see what kind of impact it would have on the county.”
Brown said she would have County Administrator Scott Schrader evaluate the dollars brought in by gasoline tax in recent years.
Here’s how a cap may affect you: The state sales tax is 4 percent, or 4 cents on a dollar. If gas is $2 a gallon, the tax is 8 cents. If it’s $3 a gallon, the tax is 12 cents now, but when the cap takes effect June 1, the tax will be only 8 cents, saving you 4 cents a gallon.
If a county also caps its 4 percent sales tax at a maximum of 8 cents on a gallon, a $3 gallon of gas will be a total of 8 cents cheaper than now.
Orange, Oneida and Broome counties are proposing local caps after Gov. George Pataki signed the gas tax bill Sunday. Counties have the option of freezing their tax revenue at the $2 per gallon level of 8 cents, like the state, or at the $3 per gallon level of 12 cents.



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Contractor to begin removing Squires rubble

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — An Oswego-based contractor will begin excavation of the Squires Building rubble this week. The asbestos-filled debris could take up to two weeks to remove.
Crews from Seabird Environmental began dropping off equipment Tuesday afternoon, and cleared a staging area today to begin loading trucks Thursday morning.
“It’s time consuming to load that quantity of material,” said Steve Mahana, operation manager at Seabird. “It just can’t be done in a couple of days. The biggest challenge is getting the trucks lined up.”
As many as four 18-wheel dump trailers may be loaded each day. The debris could be brought to a combination of landfills in Cayuga and Ontario counties or one in Ohio.
“At this point, we’re not sure where it’s going to go,” said property owner John Scanlon. “It depends on the quantity and the availability of each landfill.




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Harford gives cost of fire station, Town Hall project

Staff Reporter

HARFORD — Community members met Tuesday to discuss the best way to address needed upgrades for the Town Hall and the fire station.
A seven-member committee of Town Board members and other local officials presented two options to the 37 residents in attendance: either renovate both buildings or build a new one that would house both.
The committee presented preliminary cost estimates — around $343,000 for the renovations and roughly $525,000 for a new building — and discussed the pros and cons of each proposal.
The Town Hall, located at the intersection of Routes 38 and 221, needs to be brought up to American Disabilities Act specifications, which would require wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, Town Board and committee member David Stoner said at the meeting.


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County looks for property to house new facilities

Staff Reporter

Cortland County is beginning the search for properties that could contain three new or renovated county facilities.
The county is looking for land to build a mental health building, a building for a Department of Motor Vehicles office and a county jail.
The county would need to purchase a minimum of 2 acres to house the public health building or the DMV facility.
A new jail would take between 6 and 16 acres, County Administrator Scott Schrader said.
“Nothing has been predetermined,” Schrader said. “We are just beginning to take a look at this.”
Property guidelines will be sent to real estate agents by the end of the week, Schrader said.


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Science lab work faces delay in Dryden

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — A project that would turn two classrooms into high school science labs will likely have to wait a year, according to an architect for the project.
The state Department of Education is behind on reviewing projects and it would be another 10 to 12 weeks before the plans would be reviewed, said Tracy Wescott, an architect with the Pennsylvania architectural firm Highland Associates.
Wescott said the office within the Education Department that reviews school projects has been downsized.
“If we have to wait, we wouldn’t have it done in time for school,” she said.
Wescott raised the issue at a school board meeting Monday.
Jim Wasley, construction manager from Christa Construction, said the project would need to start by June 26 to have it completed by the start of the 2006-07 school year.
The district would lose state aid on the project if it did the work without SED approval, he said.


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