Truxton youth heads to Harrisburg for National Junior Dairy Management Contest


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Matt Sharpe, 15, stands with his holstein outside their barn on Haights Gulf Road in Homer. Sharpe will be competing in a national dairy competition having already won the New York State competition. 

Staff Reporter

TRUXTON — Fifteen-year old Matthew Sharpe is heading to Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday to compete in the National Junior Dairy Management Contest after placing first as an individual in the State Fair.
With a February birthday, Sharpe could have competed in the junior division but was bumped up because he had won in that category at the state-level, and is one of the youngest competitors in the 15-19   age category.
“There’s only nationals in the senior division, so they moved up into that this year,” Sharpe said from the kitchen table of his Truxton home on Thursday.
“I called him to see if I should come up to the awards ceremony,” said his mother, Kim Sharpe, “but he said, ‘No, I’m one of the youngest ones here and I don’t think I did very well.’”
The state champ is the fourth-generation on the farm on Haights Gulf Road, and has about 20 dairy cows registered in his name.
“I think it was a really big advantage because I’m out there every day. It’s real life stuff, and it’d be hard to teach that without doing it for 15 years,” Sharpe said of his farm experience.
Sharpe had begun to get up close and personal with his family farm when he was about 2 years old, and by the age of 7 had shown his first cow at the Cortland County Junior Fair and begun to take an interest in the herd.
His father, Kevin Sharpe, said he had previously sold off his calves and bought heifers to increase his stock, but Matthew Sharpe soon took over the breeding of the cows and has increased the yield for each of the four generations since.
“I like raising my cows from Day One, and then seeing them grow up,” Sharpe said. “I look at a cow and see what it lacks, and try to find that in a bull.”
The farm sells all of its male calves, and for the most part, Matthew Sharpe uses artificial insemination to ensure the diversity and the best selection of the traits he’s trying to bring out.
This hands-on, practical experience certainly benefited him in the written portion of the state-level competition, which involved questions about bookkeeping and net profit/net loss.
The dairy management competition tested competitors based on knowledge, rather than showing cattle — which Sharpe competed in at the county level.
One station had the competitors judge a group of cows, and then checked their results against those of actual judges. Another asked the teenagers to distinguish between 32 types of feed and then tested them on the characteristics of different varieties. A medication and treatment portion and dairy product identification was also involved, as was an equipment management and safety section.
“That one was boring. I’m not a tractor guy,” Sharpe said. “I know cows. I do what I have to with tractors, but I prefer to be in the barn with the cows.”
The national competition will be similar to the state-level, but will also include an oral examination. As a veteran of many a dairy bowl quiz competition, Sharpe said that he doesn’t anticipate any problems.
Even though he’s confident and only studies steadily, rather than cramming, Sharpe said the level of competition at the national level was a bit stiffer than states. The winner of first place at Harrisburg will receive a $1,000 college scholarship, and the top 10 receive awards, as well.
Sharpe, who is the president of the Cortland Valley 4-H chapter and a member of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Teen Council, plans to attend college for agriculture and dairy science. He is a sophomore at Homer High School and also plays lacrosse and basketball.
“As a parent, I think the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about what he’s taken out of farming is a great work ethic that carries over into other things he does,” Kim Sharpe said.
“I think I’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got cows here with good genetics, but there’s always improvement to make,” Sharpe said as he walked across the road from his house to the milking parlor. “I definitely want to be on a farm, I want to run a farm.”



Priest suit dismissed

Judge cites statute of limitations

Staff Reporter

SYRACUSE — Ruling that they waited too long before filing their claims, a state Supreme Court judge on Thursday dismissed lawsuits that accused two former Catholic priests of sexually abusing four Cortland women when they were teen-agers.
Supreme Court Justice Edward D. Carni on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Cortland woman against Monsignor John M. Zeder, the Rev. Thomas Keating, Bishop James Moyihan, Bishop Thomas Costello and the Diocese of Syracuse.
The woman is named as Jane Doe in court papers.
Carni also dismissed a similar suit filed by three sisters, Kristin Hansen, Amy Hansen and Karen Hansen, against Keating, Moynihan, Costello and the Diocese of Syracuse.
Both suits claimed Zeder and Keating abused the women between 1978 and 1985 while they were priests at St. Mary’s Church on Main Street in Cortland.
Carni ruled the claims in both cases were filed too long after the alleged incidents occurred.
According to the decisions, the statute of limitations requires the women to have filed a claim within one year of when the alleged abuse ended. For Doe, the claim should have been filed by the end of 1985, while the Hansen sisters needed to file by 1988.
Doe said this morning that the abuse she suffered was like “spiritual murder.”
“Many have left the Roman Catholic faith,” she said. “What hurt me the most was losing my faith for 10 years. I put this decision in the Lord’s hands and for him it was time to end this. I am blessed that my faith is stronger now than it has ever been.”



TC3 creates mobile Web site

DRYDEN — In an effort to make important information more readily available, Tompkins Cortland Community College has made part of its Web site accessible via cell phones. Students using TC3 Mobile can retrieve grades, class schedule, scores and schedules for TC3 athletic teams, directions, a weather cam, and contact numbers for key offices on campus. The pages formatted for cell phone viewing can be found at
TC3 Mobile is a product of the college’s information technology department. “We constantly ask ourselves which technology applications make sense,” said Marty Christofferson, TC3’s director of information technology. “We look for technology that is cost effective and that will improve the lives of our students and faculty.”
Working with the college’s software provider, TC3 was able to modify existing Web pages to suit cell phones’ screens, often stripping out graphics and including only simple text. The result is a convenient way to access important information. “We had to think differently about what students would want to access with their cell phones,” said Christofferson. “For example, we don’t envision someone trying to register for courses from a cell phone key pad, but they would want access to easy-to-execute applications, like checking their grades.”
“We try very hard to use technology in ways that are smart to support learning and the non-academic needs of our learners,” said TC3 President Carl Haynes. “We pride ourselves on the strong collaborative effort between our academic and administrative technology staffs who have created a great vision for how we use technology.”