October 03, 2007


Sleight of hand helps speaker deliver message to students


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Jim Jordan speaks to Dryden Middle School students Tuesday during a program on bullying.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — A motivational speaker presented a combination of magic and a message about bullying to middle and high school students Tuesday.
“You have a chance to be a super hero,” said Jim Jordan, who kept his hands busy with magic tricks while talking.
Jordan said he has been addressing bullying in schools for three years after he developed the program with the help of a mentor who helped him develop the program in Canada, where Jordan’s business in based. Jordan said he had noticed bullying was a hot topic.
“The focus has to be on the bystander,” Jordan said after the presentation, noting some programs focus on the bully or the victim.
He said by focusing on those who observe bullying the majority of students are reached and the bad behavior can be stopped if the bystanders get involved by speaking up to someone in authority.
Along with his presentation, Jordan described two other methods he provides to ferret out bullies — tip boxes that students can use to report a bully by filling out a form and by going to the Web site and filling out a similar form.
The district would sign up to be included on the Web site and complaints would be forwarded to the district by confidential e-mail. Students must provide their names and e-mail addresses when filing a complaint.
School principals would investigate complaints they receive about bullies.
Jordan said Dryden was the first school in New York in which he gave his presentation. Most of his marketing is done through the Internet and from personal recommendation.
Jordan titled his talk “Independence Day,” and said to achieve independence students have to be responsible, have integrity and be respectful.
As he said students have to rise above those with bad behavior, a ball magically rose into the air, glowing blue.
Jordan also used card tricks, funny TV clips, games with prize money and other magic tricks to keep the students’ attention.
Students watched attentively and screamed to be selected, especially when the possibility of winning $20 or $100 came up.
At the end he gave an analogy between bullying and a campfire, saying there were three things needed to make a fire: ignition, fuel and oxygen. He said the bully is the ignition, the victim is the fuel and bystanders who say and do nothing are the oxygen. He also briefly showed students the faces of six children who died as a result of bullying, describing how one girl took her dog’s leash and hung herself. He read an e-mail from another girl who was bullied.
“I thought it was really educational about bullying and really fun,” said Tamera Stephenson, an eighth-grader at Dryden Middle School.
She said she has not seen any bullying at Dryden but a cousin who goes to another district has talked about bullying that goes on there.
“It was really great,” said Kraig Parker, an eighth-grader, who became a participant in the program. Jordan made him a purple swan, which Parker put on his head.
Both Parker and Stephenson said they would head Jordan’s advice.
Middle School Principal Ted Walsh said the district has formed a Character Education Committee with teachers and administrators from all levels on the committee. Their task is to improve character education and help families. Assistant Middle School Principal Larry Hinkle said Jordan presented his programs to teachers in the district in June.
Jordan’s program in Dryden cost $3,500.
“Ted and I take it very seriously,” Hinkle said. “Kids this age can be cruel.”
He noted that most bullies had been bullied themselves in school.



Council OKs stricter parking ordinance

Go-ahead allows stronger enforcement against property owners who violate front-yard parking law

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — A revised front-yard parking ordinance will make it easier for city officials to prosecute violators and will allow the city to hold property owners responsible for repeated violations on a property.
The Common Council passed the measure at its regular meeting Tuesday night and it will take effect Nov. 1.
Although an ordinance prohibiting front-yard parking was previously in effect, Assistant Fire Chief and Director of Code Enforcement Chuck Glover told the council that the language of the old ordinance did not allow the code office to issue parking tickets for the violation. Rather, City Court Judge Thomas Meldrim required a court appearance ticket for violators.
“Our understanding is that cars get tickets, people get court appearance tickets,” Glover said this morning.
The difficulty of determining who the owner of the vehicle is and the fact that a code official would also have to be present in court makes the issuance of court appearance tickets for all front yard parking violations impractical, he said.
The new ordinance, using language developed by city attorney Larry Knickerbocker, would allow the code office to issue parking tickets for violations of the ordinance.
Glover said his office usually lets a first-time offender off with a warning. Now, the second offense would result in a parking ticket — the fine is about $30 — and a third offense would result in a court appearance ticket.
Glover said he feels the increase in enforcement should dissuade people from parking on their front lawns. He doesn’t expect to go to court for front yard parking violations very often, except in the cases of property owners who don’t do enough to discourage tenants from doing so.
Alderwoman Shannon Terwilliger (D-2nd Ward) has been concerned for city residents who do not have the space to park more than one car in the driveway.
“If we do this, it’s not going to create more parking spots for the people who don’t have enough parking spots,” Terwilliger said at the beginning of the council’s discussion of the matter. “I’m afraid this is going to create hardship for them without any solution.”

Mayor to see salary increase

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Common Council adopted a $25,000 salary for the mayor’s position, which would come into effect in 2008.
A hearing scheduled before the council’s regular meeting did not produce any public comment.
The salaries for elected officials must be raised before the beginning of each new term; Mayor Tom Gallagher is running for his third two-year term as mayor, unopposed for the second time.
Only Alderwoman Susan Feiszli (D-6th Ward) voted against the local law, citing her preference that the salary increase be instituted through the budget process.
The current salary for mayor is $13,800. It was lowered from $16,000 for Mayor Bud Quinlan, who served from 1984-87, to allow for him to collect his fire department pension.


Trial begins for nursing home company

Staff Reporter

Attorneys delivered opening statements Tuesday in the trial of a company accused of falsifying records and violating health laws at a local nursing home it owns.
Assistant Attorney General Ralph Tortora of the Medicaid Fraud Bureau went over the nine-count indictment with jurors who were chosen Monday.
Highgate LTC Management LLC, the company that owns Northwoods Extended Care and Rehabilitation Facility on Kellogg Road in Cortland, was indicted in 2006 on six counts of willfully violating health laws and three counts of falsifying business records, misdemeanors.
“Highgate owns and operates the facility. The only way they can provide care is through their employees,” Tortora said. “They are responsible for their employees. At the conclusion of the case, I am going to ask you to come back with the only verdict the evidence supports — guilty.”
The indictment came after an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office, which placed a hidden camera in a comatose patient’s room to run 24 hours a day during the three month period. The office had the permission of the patient’s family.
Investigators said nurses and nurses’ aides repeatedly neglected to provide proper care to the patient between January and March 2005, and also filed paperwork that stated they had completed the necessary care when the videotape showed otherwise.
Defense Attorney David Rothenberg argued the defendant in this criminal trial is Highgate LTC Management LLC, a company, not the employees who neglected to provide care.
“There may very well be proof that the aides and nurses didn’t give the proper care to the patient,” Rothenberg said to the jury, “but I submit to you that there will be no proof that anyone above those nurses did know or would tolerate it. Highgate at all times expected its records to be kept accurately.”
Susan Clark, who was a nurse manager for Northwoods at the time of the alleged crimes, was the first of eight witnesses to be called to the stand.
Clark went over the care plan for the man who was in a chronic vegetative state, assessments that were made about his health and who had access to and responsibility for the charts during those winter months.
Rothenberg argued that had Clark known that the man was not receiving the proper treatments of range-of-motion therapy, oral care and turning and positioning every two hours to prevent bed sores, she would had reported it to management.
Clark agreed and said neither she, nor anyone besides the nurses and nurses’ aides knew that the patient was not receiving proper treatment.



Dems try to take Cuyler candidate off ballot

Woman running for town clerk has been backed by both GOP and Democrats.

Staff Reporter

CUYLER — Although the Republican and Democratic ballots for the town have been filed with the county Board of Elections, members of the Democratic Party are opposing a candidate on their own ticket.
The opposition centers on Wendy Custer, who was selected by the Republican and Democratic caucuses to run as town clerk and tax collect under both party lines.
Bill Wood, chairman of the county Democratic Committee and county Democratic commissioner, said someone put Custer’s name forward.
Wood has been meeting with Republican Election Commissioner Robert Howe, attempting to remove Custer from the Democratic ticket.
“Our bylaws specify that anyone that is not a Democrat must be accepted by the executive committee,” Wood said Tuesday evening. He refused to say who was on that committee.
Howe said he disagrees with Wood and believes that since Custer won the nomination of the Democratic caucus, she has a right to be on the ticket.
Custer is registered as an independent.
“As far as I’m concerned, I have no problems with it,” Howe said. “I checked with the state and the state said if there was an objector, they had three days to challenge it. The party chair (Wood) has 10 days and he didn’t file anything.”
Wood can either leave the ballot as is or take Howe to court over the matter, but he said nothing has been decided yet.
Howe said the state told him that state Election Law does not require the approval of the county executive committee and the law supercedes the bylaws of the county Democratic Committee. Lee Daghlian, a spokesman for the state Board of Elections, confirmed this morning that this is the case.
Custer, who was prompted to run after joining the group Concerned Citizens of Cuyler, said she heard George Van Dee, a local Democratic leader, was trying to get her off the ballot as well.
“George Van Dee is trying to get me off because supposedly you were supposed to sign a paper that said you were accepted by the Democratic caucus, but I didn’t know,” she said.
Custer went into the county Board of Elections the day after the caucus and signed the document.
Van Dee declined to comment on the situation.



Homer faces decision on broken water tank

Village considering fixing or replacing it

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The village is trying to decide if it should repair a 200,000-gallon water storage tank, buy a new tank or abandon it altogether.
A repaired water tank could cost up to $70,000, while a new water tank could cost around $200,000,  Ken Teter, an engineer for the village, said at a Village Board meeting Tuesday evening.
The village recently took the water tank, which is on the hill on the east side of the village above High Street and one of three in the village, off-line when last month it discovered the tank’s liner had fallen to the inside bottom of the tank.
The liner, which provided a protective barrier between the steel tank and the water inside, must have fallen off sometime over the last four months or so, Larry Barber, superintendent of the village’s water and sewer department, said at Tuesday’s meeting. In the spring the liner was in place, he said.
It is unknown exactly how the liner, which is 17 years old, fell off, Teter said. Liners typically last between 20 and 25 years, he said.
Village trustee Gen Suits asked if the liner was still under warranty, and Teter responded the warranty has expired.
With the water tank now off-line, the village has 200,000 fewer gallons of water at its disposal.
The village still has 890,000 gallons of water at its disposal, with another water tank on the hill on the east side of the village, that can hold up to 140,000 gallons of water and another tank on the hill on the west side of the village that can hold up to 750,000 gallons.
A new tank may be required if the tank’s steel has become too thin, Teter said.
Repairing the tank would cost between $50,000 and $70,000, depending on whether the village bought a new liner or coated the tank’s inside with a fiberglass solution that serves the same purpose as a liner.
A new liner would cost around $50,000, while a fiberglass solution could cost between $50,000 and $70,000, he said.
Roy Crandall, a Village Board member, suggested during Tuesday’s meeting the village look into buying an epoxy coating for the tank if it is salvageable.
Teter said he would explore that option. He recommended the town put a third water tank back on line, whether it is by repairing or replacing it, to ensure a fire on the east side of town can be put out and to accommodate growth in the village.