July 2, 2007

High gas prices keep campers close to home

gas Prices

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
The Marvin and Miller families, of Oswego County, sit around their campfire between their trailers at Yellow Lantern Kampground on Route 13 north of Cortland Friday evening. The families say they like to travel to different campgrounds in the area but not too far away from home. Henry Miller says his truck get 7 1/2 miles per gallon when pulling his trailer. From left are Jessica Marvin; Gordie Marvin; Emily Marvin; Mary Miller and her husband, Henry; Joshua Miller; Tommy Cocopoti; and Ethan Miller.

Staff Reporter

After setting up their camper at Country Hills campground on Muckey Road in Lapeer Friday afternoon, Fred and Linda Wales walked down a gravel road at the campground.
The Owego couple have been coming to the campground for the last four years, ever since the high price of gasoline made trips to Lancaster, Pa., and North Carolina too expensive.
It was the Wales’ second time at the campground this summer, having come for Memorial Day. They’ll be leaving on Wednesday and returning for Labor Day.
“I know we’re not going anywhere way far away this year,” Linda Wales said. “We just can’t go with gas prices being the way they are.”
Gas prices have affected how campers are traveling, said Pat Tetrault, with the Northeast Campground Association.
More travelers are staying closer to home and staying in one spot for longer, she said.
“The traveling public, they’re going to travel anyway. If they’re coming up from Florida and they’re driving up to Maine, they’re going to stop at a campground anyway,” Tetrault said this morning. “Holidays, we have been booked solid.”
Seasonal campers usually live within 30 miles of their preferred or destination campground, Tetrault said, where they park their recreational vehicle or camper and return to it for weekends, holidays and vacations.
Country Hills owner Don Friedman credits the campground’s recent expansion to more and more summertime vacationers staying closer to home than they might have in years past, when the cost of gas was lower.
Friedman said the campground’s 120 sites were nearly full over the past weekend, and about three-quarters of the campers would be seasonal.
“We’ve picked up more seasonals every year, and with gas prices this year — that part is helping us,” Friedman said as he sat in front of the campground’s new office building Friday afternoon.
The office and a new camp store, capable of serving hot food, were all built in the last two months, Friedman said, and a pavilion was put in last year.
Sandy Panzanella, the owner of the Yellow Lantern Kampground on Route 13 in Cortlandville, said that about half of business at the 205-site campground is seasonal.
“We have campers every single night, so even if we’re not overly busy on major weekends, we have people in every day of the week,” Panzanella said Friday.
The campers at the Yellow Lantern come in from as far away as Arizona and Texas, as well as Binghamton, Syracuse and Utica, and Panzanella said she does not believe her campground has seen any problems from the increase in gas prices.
“Even last year, most of the campgrounds had major problems, but it really doesn’t impact us much,” she said.
The Cortland Country Music Park Campground also sees about half of its business in seasonal campers, said marketing director Joan Goodell. She said nothing stops people from wanting to get out of town for a week or weekend.
On Friday, Goodell said that of the 100 recreational vehicle sites, plus tent sites, the park would be 70 percent full with more on the way.
“Our seasonal campers are still coming in. People want to take a vacation and get away — they like the serenity, the quiet,” Goodell said.
The campground has not been severely affected by rising gas prices, she added, with campers coming in for every conceivable occasion.
“A lot of our people come from Pennsylvania, and a lot of them are from down south. And you always get people coming up graduations,” Goodell said.
Over at Country Hills, Susan Winans, of Minoa, watched her family play bocce in the sun near a half-mile long lake that she was intimately acquainted with — her in-laws had been coming to the campground since the 1970s, and she and her husband, Pete, bought their own camper five years ago and now leave it at Country Hills throughout the season.
“We’ve been coming here for a long time, so we wouldn’t normally be going further,” Winans said. “But gas prices are definitely a consideration. We don’t travel with our camper, it stays here permanently. As far as the camper goes, this is home. But even in the car, it’s expensive.”



State removes Cuyler justice from office

Staff Reporter

CUYLER — Town Justice Jean Marshall officially was removed from office this morning for multiple ethical violations, according a decision posted online by the state Court of Appeals.
The seven-justice court found that Marshall not only unethically adjourned and dismissed court cases based on out-of-court conversations in late 2003 and early 2004, but she also altered court calendars and lied under oath in order to cover up her behavior during a state Commission on Judicial Conduct investigation into the cases, according to the decision.
Citing a previous case from 1989, the court found Marshall’s conduct warrants removal because she “gave patently false explanations to the Commission despite contrary objective proof.”
The commission’s attorney, Robert Tembeckjian, argued in front of the court on June 7 that Marshall used white-out to cover up adjournment dates on her court calendar after falsely testifying several times that she never adjourned the court dates.
“When later questioned by the Commission, petitioner (Marshall) repeatedly testified falsely that she had not adjourned the cases,” the court said in its decision. “She also used white-out to conceal the adjourned date originally written in her court calendar. We are not persuaded by petitioner’s claim that this was merely a routine alteration intended only to update the status of the cases and therefore concluded that both charges should be sustained.”
“Petitioner’s action violated the high standards of integrity and conduct required of the judiciary,” the court continued.
Tembeckjian said this morning that because of the removal Marshall can never serve as a judge in New York state again.
He said the commission only recommended that she be removed because she lied to cover up her actions. He said that if she had been truthful with the commission, the commission would only have publicly disciplined her.
Marshall is the 117th town justice to be removed from office since the commission was founded in 1978.
Marshall’s attorney, Lawrence Knickerbocker, admitted that his client had the ex-parte, or out-of-court, conversations and also dismissed the cases improperly, but denied Marshall ever adjourned the cases in court, lied under oath or altered court calendars to hide the adjournments.
“She listened to those ex-parte communications incorrectly,” he said in front of the court.
Town Supervisor Steven Breed, who is Marshall’s brother, said this morning that acting town justice Rollan Elwood will fulfill the town’s judge’s duties until the end of the year when a newly elected judge can take his place. He said the position will be up of election for a full term in November.
Elwood had been serving as town justice since Marshall was suspended in March while she was waiting for her appeal to be heard.
“I’m not happy about it,” Breed said of the court’s decision. “But what can you do? They are the highest court in the land.”
Marshall did not return a phone call seeking comment this morning.


Collies try to corral top spot

Staff Reporter

VIRGIL — Shepherding sheep is not an ordinary sight here, but for four days it takes on national importance at Fetch Gate Farm on Babcock Hollow Road as handlers whistle and give commands to their border collies and the dogs corral and manipulate sheep on a hillside field.
Heather and Roger Millen, the owners of the farm at 1804 Babcock Hollow Road, just off Owego Hill Road, host the sheep dog trials, which test the dog’s ability to herd sheep.
Heather Millen said Canidae All Natural pet foods sponsored the event, offering food as prizes for winning dogs. This is the second annual sheep dog trial at this farm.
Professionals competed in the Open Class, the highest class, on Saturday and Sunday. Amateurs compete today and Tuesday.
The trial is a qualifying run for national finals, scheduled this year for September in Gettysburg, Pa.
Millen said in the Northeast on just about any weekend from April to October there is a trial going on someplace. The closest ones to Virgil are in Hop Bottom, Pa., and Cooperstown.
Jim Murphy, a handler from Portland, Ontario, Canada, said the top 150 dogs from five trials go on to the national competition.
Millen said while the event is open to any breed, border collies are natural herders and all the competitors Saturday were border collies.
“Border collies live to herd. They love going out to work,” Millen said.
She has a flock of 100 Katahdin Hair ewes that rotate into the field, three at a time, for the 83 dogs that competed Saturday.
“My sheep are rather challenging,” Heather Millen said.
“If they (the dogs) can move three sheep, they can move a flock of sheep,” said Millen, noting sheep are on heightened alert when they are separated from their flock.
Millen said she decided to host the trials because she and her husband compete too and “because we have this beautiful field, we give back to the herding community.”
Millen said most of the help at the event comes from competitors volunteering their time when they are not competing. The set-out man, whose job is to keep the sheep calm at the top of the field while waiting for the competing dogs, is paid. The set-out man, J.P. LaLonde, is a full-time shepherd from Sydenham, Ontario, said Gene Sheninger, who competed with three of his border collies and is from Boonton, N.J.
He said the set-man is important because it makes sure each run is consistent by keeping control of the sheep.
Sheninger said he got into border collies when he was helping care for a neighbor’s field that was up for sale, but because it was steep he kept tipping over the mower. A sheep-owner, he put his small flock up there to do the job.
When no longer needed, he went to pick up his sheep. “It took the whole day. It was a mess to collect them,” he said of the sheep.
He then bought a border collie puppy and continued purchasing dogs and sheep. He now has a flock of 350 sheep on his New Jersey farm that is 35 miles from New York City, within sight of the former Twin Towers.
Sheninger has six dogs that compete. “I have three competing here,” he said.
“Give them sheep and they’ll love you,” he said of the border collie.
Sheninger said some dog trials attract a lot of spectators, including his and the one in Cooperstown, both attracting around 1,000 people.
Advertised for the first time, the Virgil event attracted mostly the competing dogs and their handlers.
Sherry Halladay, of Virgil, and two of her family members came out to watch with their 7-week-old Australian shepherd, who was napping. “I don’t know anything about it,” she said.
“This is fun. It’s too bad there are not more young people,” she said Saturday. She said she was considering coming back Sunday with her daughters.
Murphy, whose dog had already competed, helped the three Halladays understand the competition.
He explained that if the handler gives his or her dog a command during the outrun — when the dog is running up the length of the field to the sheep — or if the dog stops, points will be deducted.
He said if the dog bites the sheep, it will likely be disqualified.



Antique tractor pull draws TOYS members to Cincy field days

Staff Reporter

CINCINNATUS — An antique tractor pull opened the Saturday events at the Cincinnatus Firemen’s Field Days, a three-day event which culminated with fireworks Sunday night.
People, most of whom were there for the antique tractor pull, started arriving Saturday as the field opened at 11 a.m. Vendors selling food and crafts were ready, with everything from chicken barbeque meals to strawberry shortcake.
Most of the first arrivals were members of the antique tractor club called Tractors of Yester Years, known as TOYS.
Some, like Glenn Barnhart, of Conklin, were enjoying an early lunch. Between bites of a hamburger, he said he would be riding his 1953 Oliver 88. Barnhart, a member of TOYS, said he goes to “a few” tractor pulls a year — “not too many.”
Randy and Rick Alger, from Plymouth in Chenango County, were feasting on barbecue chicken meals with their uncle Clay Alger, from East Pharsalia.
“I collect the antique tractors,” Clay Alger said. “I have 25 of them.”
Clay Alger said collecting antique tractors was just a hobby for him.
“Once you get one of them … you keep going,” he said, noting he has bought them from individuals as far away as the Ithaca and Utica areas.
“He’s got enough for all of us,” Randy Alger said.
Rick Alger said he is a farmer, now raising crops only but he had been in the dairy industry. “I’ve been farming my whole life. He said he is partial to Allis-Chalmers tractors and has five of them, but not antique ones.
The tractors — the familiar green of the John Deeres, orange of the Allis-Chalmers and red of the Farmalls — were lined up along the eastern edge of the field, awaiting the tractor pull. Not all of the tractors were slated for the tractor pull.
Leona Willard, of Penelope, just outside Whitney Point, said she and her husband, Willard, drive around the countryside during the summer, looking for tractors and then take them apart during the winters.
“We just can’t sit and watch TV all day,” she said. “That’s not for us.”
Leona Willard, sporting orange nail polish that matched the tractor, said the weather had turned out nice Saturday — not too hot.
“I have fun. If I can’t I might as well stay home,” Willard said.
Saturday also featured a pie sale with donated pies, carnival rides starting at 1 p.m., bands and other entertainment and a parade.
The field days started with rides Friday evening, a Miss Cincinnatus contest, a band and car show.
With ever increasing costs for fuel to run emergency vehicles, Dean Catlin, organizer of the Cincinnatus Field Days and first lieutenant of the ambulance squad, was happy about the Friday crowd at the carnival rides.
“We were expecting it to be lower,” he said, but more people came out than in past years, bringing in $200 more than usual. No final figures were available.