July 30, 2007

McLean festival draws on hamlet’s heritage
3rd annual Happenin’ in the Hamlet  held Saturday


Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer    
From left, Katie Towner, 9, Tyler Rose, 13, Taylor Beeman, 13, and Angel Van Hoesen, 16, dance in step to the song “Cotton Eye Joe” Saturday during a community block dance at McLean’s Happenin’ in the Hamlet. The event concluded with a fireworks show at dusk. 

Staff Reporter

McLEAN — McLean may not be the bustling mill town it was in the 1800s, but residents brought their fair share of life to the community’s center at the third annual Happenin’ in the Hamlet event on Saturday.
The day was centered around Fall Creek, the spark for the hamlet’s economy in its early days. Historical information about the creek, its importance and how the hamlet evolved was on display inside the fire station at Saturday’s event.
One of the town’s most significant happenings was a fire in 1897 that burned down seven of the hamlet’s mills.
“From then on we didn’t grow much here,” said Norma Totman, 76, of McLean, noting that Cortland and Ithaca’s growth surpassed the town’s from then on.
Mike Totman, 19, the town’s fire captain and Norma Totman’s grandson, said the idea behind Saturday’s event is not to lament over the hamlet’s lack of growth, but to focus on positive elements of its history.
“That is why we did the bucket brigade earlier, to celebrate the fire being put out,” Totman said, noting the water to put out the fire came from Fall Creek.
About 30 children participated in the bucket brigade relays on Saturday morning, filling buckets of water from a pool and passing them down a line as quickly as they could.
Tyler Rose said the bucket brigades were her favorite part of the day, even though she sprained her wrist.
“When you have friends you kind of forget about everything,” said Tyler, 11. “You have so much fun.”
Throughout much of the day, Tyler was hanging out at the event with friends from Calling All Teens, a group of McLean teenagers that meet every Tuesday evening to play games and stay out of trouble.
The teens may not have been too excited about learning about the hamlet’s history, but they were helping to make it. They walked in the event’s first annual parade, which also included trucks from the McLean Fire Department and four surrounding fire departments.
“We got to be ourselves and be weird,” said Taylor Beeman, 13, of McLean
Teens also got to express themselves on the dance floor at the event’s dance, trying out a popular move involving one arm behind one’s head and other holding up the leg on the other side of the body behind one’s body.
“You just kind of go like this and you just kind of move around,” said Ashley Ward 10, of McLean, demonstrating the move before the dance.
The event also included a cooking contest, a victim extrication demonstration, fireworks, food and a kickball game between fireman and teens in which firemen won 10-9.
McLean resident Tina Faulker, 33, said it was nice to see so many young people at the event. She said it seems like more children, including her two sons, live in the town that when she was growing up there.
George Totman, who is 77 and Norma Totman’s husband, said he hopes that the hamlet’s center can grow.
He pointed out that the historic building across the street, which used to serve as a tinware store, a clothing store, a post office and an office building for Suit-Kote, is vacant.
“There’s no room for a new septic tank or to make improvements to the current septic tank,” he said.
Brittany Quinn, 17, who was visiting her relatives, the Seymours, on Saturday, as she does every weekend during the summer, said she appreciates McLean’s relative quietness.
“I live in like suburbia,” she said. “This is like the boondocks to me. You go from noise to watching horses and all that. You can hang out and look at the stars.”
Norma Totman said Saturday’s event did not attract as many people as it did the last two years, but people still seemed to have a good time.
“We haven’t had a big crowd but the people who were here were enthusiastic and came for a good time,” she said.




Cortland Cable may revamp torpedo guidance

Company in line for $2 million from 2008 federal defense appropriations bill.

Staff Reporter

Cortland Cable has been slated to receive _$2 million in the 2008 federal defense appropriations bill to pursue new torpedo technology for the Navy.
The funding, which passed the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee last week, still requires full Congressional approval, according to Rep. Mike Arcuri (D-Utica), who put in the request for the appropriation.
If the funding level passes the House and Senate intact, Cortland Cable CEO John Stidd said, it would allow the company to develop new wire torpedo guidance technology for the Navy.
Currently the Navy uses heavy, underwater wires to guide its MK48 torpedoes, but that technology has become outdated, Stidd said, particularly because it is only useful in deep water situations.
“Really, the mission of the Navy has changed, where all of their torpedo firings used to be deep water shots and maneuvers, but now, with the threats they’re seeing from smaller countries and from terrorists, they’re finding they need to be able to fire in shallower water,” Stidd said.
The next step in guidance wires for the Navy’s torpedoes is a move from hardware communication to fiber optic communication, Stidd said, and from a lead-weighted system aimed at keeping the wiring as deep in the water as possible, to a buoyant system that would allow for shallower implementation.
Arcuri said that after he submitted the request for the appropriation, the funding was out of his hands, but that interest from the Navy had helped sway the appropriations committee.
“Once the Navy got behind the project, the committee got behind it,” Arcuri said.
Arcuri said he was excited that new military technology was being developed locally.
“The thing that stood out to me when I met with the people at Cortland Cable is that this technology is not only going to make us more efficient militarily,” he said, “but it also ensures that when we do have to fire a missile, we can monitor and guide them so we’re not hitting any noncombatants.”
Economically, Stidd said that Cortland Cable helped develop the current technology for the Navy, and that it has provided business for the company for 25 years.
“If we’re successful in creating “a better mousetrap,” as they say, I would hope this would keep us going for the next 25 years,” Stidd said.
Cortland Cable, which employs 65 people locally, potentially would be adding at least an additional engineer to work on the development of the technology, Stidd said, and if the company receives further contracts from the Navy or NATO — which implements similar technology — more jobs could be added.



Freetown organizes its first Community Fun Day

Staff Reporter

FREETOWN — At Freetown’s first Community Fun Day on Saturday, Freetown resident Laura Williams joked about the speed with which her daughter, Marjorie, makes cross necklaces.
“You don’t want to get near her when she makes crosses or you’ll lose limbs and teeth,” she said, smiling at her daughter.
Marjorie, who is 17 and was selling cross necklaces she had made from nails and colored wire over the last couple months for her new business, The Cross Barn, was among dozens of vendors and community residents who attended Freetown’s first Community Fun Day at the town park.
The event, which was organized by Freetown Uniting Neighbors, a community group of town residents that took shape in the fall, is a way to bring the community together, said Lisa Mitchell, who is 33 and a Freetown Uniting Neighbors member.
“This is something our town needs to get out and start socializing,” she said.
The event featured food and vendor booths, a bake sale, a horse-drawn wagon ride and entertainment, followed by community residents adding pea gravel to its new park playground.
Randy Hopkins, town historian and a Freetown Uniting Neighbors member, said back in the 1970s many town residents socialized through church, but now, with fewer people going to church, they need other reasons to get out and see each other.
Events organized by Freetown Uniting Neighbors, which included Halloween, Christmas and spring parties over the past year, as well as Saturday’s event, are ways the community can get close again, he said.
“As town historian, I’m trying to re-enact that,” he said.
Saturday’s event wasn’t packed with people, but event organizers said the more events the town has, the more people will attend them. Approximately 100 people attended Saturday’s event.
Vendors set up near the food pavilion, trying to sell products from their businesses or other odds and ends.
Larry West, 45, and Jeannine Burk, 40, who are partners and live in Solon, were trying to sell a black leather jacket, old tapes and archery arrows, among other household objects.
Jeannine Burk said it was more likely they’d sell the products at the event than at their home on May Road. Not only that, she said, the event is a good way to show outsiders what Freetown is all about.
“It brings more people to the country today,” she said.
Around 11:15 a.m. Cheyenne Mitchell, 13, and Jolyn Salmons, 16, both of Freetown, were preparing to put on a little performance. Salmons, who would be playing her flute, practiced marching in step as Mitchell, who would be twirling a flag, tried her best to do the same.
“We’ll be marking time to make sure she stays in time,” Salmons said. “We both need to stay in time.”
After hitting herself in the knee with the end of her flag, Mitchell laughed. “That’s why I don’t like marching,” she said.