November 10, 2007


Of soldiers’ stories and lessons learned —

CHS Remembrance Day honors veterans


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
World War II Army veteran Sam Forcucci addresses Cortland Junior-Senior High School students Friday.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Veterans brought their memories and stories of their service in the Marines, Air Force, Army and Navy to share with students at Cortland Junior-Senior High School Friday during the school’s Great American Remembrance Day.
The talks held in advance of Veterans Day on Sunday were not confined to veterans. Staff Sgt. Maureen Moffett, an Army reservist, and Marine Lt. Col. Gary Winterstein, who served in Baghdad from March to September, and Marine recruiter Sgt. Harris also spoke.
Winterstein, of Maryland, was the only one who is not from the local area, but his brother-in-law Joe McMahon teaches economics at the high school.
Amanda Cheetham, a 12th-grader at CHS, said listening to the veterans was “so much more interesting” than reading history from a book. “The veterans obviously love to share their stories.”
Cheetham said one veteran, Daniel Sherman, was almost in tears when he spoke about others who had died while serving in the Air Force with him during World War II. “That was so touching,” she said.
Sherman, a bomber pilot in Europe during World War II, said he was shot down and spent 115 days behind enemy lines. Four sons and a daughter also spent time in the service during Vietnam, he said.
Sam Forcucci, an Army veteran of World War II, said he joined after Pearl Harbor was attacked, becoming a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. He said in the Normandy invasion more than 1,000 members of his troop did not return. But, the toughest battle he fought was the Battle of the Bulge. “The Germans fought savagely,” he said.
Forcucci talked about a Christmas Day when he watched British troops stop advancing. Americans asked why and got this answer from one of the soldiers: “‘I can’t go into battle without a cup of tea. It might be my last one,’” Forcucci related, using a British accent.
Forcucci poked fun of himself, too. He said he and some other soldiers rounded up 20 chickens.
“No one had guts enough to kill the chickens,” he said, so they followed a German, carrying a white flag, into a market and with motions, showed him what they wanted him to do: cut of the heads of the chicken. Forcucci said the man remarked, “‘And you guys are winning the war!’” as he left.
Also speaking about World War II were Leland “Lee” Taylor and Murray Aldrich, both who served in the Pacific in the Navy.
Wearing his uniform, Aldrich, 81, said he enlisted at 16 in the Navy after first trying to enlist in the Marines a couple of times and the Navy once before being accepted. The minimum age was 17 to enlist and he had been rejected for enlisting too early. He was stationed on the USS Oglala.
“I loved the Navy. I don’t have any regrets,” Aldrich said of his 15 years of service.
Taylor, 87, said out of 12 Navy ships, nine were lost in the war. He was a supply officer on the USS Remey, which was not destroyed, but had been fired on by the Japanese.
Taylor was in college when he joined the Navy as an officer, but Aldrich quit high school in 1943. He received a high school equivalency diploma and got a college degree at the age of 51, taking up firefighting.
Taylor told students the military offers lots of opportunity to get a college education. He said the phrase, “join and see the world” was popular in his day. “I saw a lot of water; I saw a lot of people get killed.” He said he remembers seeing the ocean turn red with blood.
Julian Coville, a junior, said he learned some of the things a recruit needs to know or have, like college experience, in listening to Richard Latham.
Mike McDermott, who served in Vietnam, showed slides he had taken there. He showed pictures of bunkers he had helped make by filling sandbags and stacking them up, and of rocket and mortar attacks. He also showed pictures of some of his buddies who never came back. Air Force veteran Richard Latham and Navy veteran Mike Dexter also served during the Vietnam era.
Dexter remarked about the “welcome veterans” message on the electronic board outside the school, saying many of the Vietnam veterans were not even welcomed back into their own hometowns.
Winterstein said while he served most recently in Iraq, for two years prior he had served in central Asia. What he found in common among other people is their desire to come to America.
“People hate us because of what we got. They want what we have,” Winterstein said.
To the question are we making a difference in Iraq right now, he said, “Yes.”
Christine Gregory, a social studies teacher who helped organize the speakers with Library Media Specialist Luann Rottmann, said a former social studies teacher many years ago had set up a Veterans Day program in which veterans brought war memorabilia to display and spoke informally in the gym or library. Called Modern American Wars Day, Gregory said Rottmann wanted to bring this idea back but with a focus not on the war, but “a celebration of the sacrifices our veterans made.”
Gregory said she hoped students would be able to understand the sacrifices veterans made for their country. “Freedom isn’t free,” she said. “We wanted it to be more reflective for the kids — to give them a chance to say thanks,” Gregory added about the day.
She also said she hoped students would take time on Monday, a day off from school, to think about veterans.
John Simson, a Navy veteran of Vietnam, said one thing students could do is send cards to veterans in hospitals, such as the Veterans Hospital in Syracuse.
Dexter said flags were put on downtown Cortland streets to honor servicemen and the banners along Main Street were hung in honor of local veterans, who are featured on them.




Virgil approves first ‘incentive zoning’ project

Staff Reporter

VIRGIL — The Town Board approved Thursday its first development project to fall under a new section of its zoning law, which allows for smaller lot sizes in exchange for concessions by developers.
Incentive zoning is a means for a municipality to spur more infrastructure improvements at the developer’s expense.
The board voted 4-0 to allow New Jersey developer Ed Trinkle to subdivide 106 acres of land into 11 lots, nine of which would each contain four high-end townhouses. Town Board member Dave Denniston was absent from the meeting.
The property is located on the west side of South Cortland-Virgil Road, about one mile south of Sherman Road.
The proposed lot sizes are between 5 and 6 acres, which would translate into a little more than 1 acre for each townhouse.
The town’s new zoning, which was approved in February by the Town Board after years of planning, sets minimum lot sizes at 3 acres per housing unit.
But incentive zoning allows smaller lot sizes, provided developers offer an acceptable amenity to the community in exchange.
Possible amenities include permanent conservation of natural areas or agricultural lands, a new road and water and sewer lines.
In Trinkle’s case, he is providing a 2,400-foot road and 39 acres of wetlands and beaver ponds. The road will connect to South Cortland-Virgil Road.
“Any time a developer is willing to build a road in the town you should really give them an incentive of smaller lots sizes,” Town Supervisor Jim Murphy said.
Michael Vail, a Planning Board member who voted in favor of the project last month, said Friday that he disagrees a road alone merits incentives for the developer.
A road has to be built no matter what, he said.
“If I’m a developer and going to build in a cluster housing development you’ve got to build a road, that’s a given,” he said.
In the case of Trinkle’s project, the 39 acres of preserved land merits the smaller lot sizes, Vail said.
Dan Dineen, director of the Cortland County Planning Department, said incentive zoning is becoming more popular in New York state.
It is preferable to the granting of area variances because those do not necessarily involve the give and take incentive zoning offers.



North Main St. should reopen next week

Staff Reporter

The city’s Department of Public Works hopes to have the North Main Street culvert replacement project wrapped up by the middle of next week, reopening an otherwise busy road.
The work on the city’s sanitary sewers will continue to impact residents throughout the winter, and will severely impact the flow of traffic on Port Watson Street at the beginning of next week.
Although the roughly 65-foot-long by 20-foot-wide North Main Street culvert was completed last week, DPW Superintendent Chris Bistocchi said Friday the city was waiting to install the bridge rails — essentially guide rails — before opening the road over the culvert.
“If someone were to go off the bridge without the bridge rail, we (the city) would be liable,” Bistocchi said.
The bridge rail should be set Monday and Tuesday, and Bistocchi hopes North Main Street would be completely open to traffic Wednesday.
North Main Street had been dead-ended from both the north and south since early July to allow for the replacement of the 1930s-era culvert.
Storm sewer projects on Kennedy Parkway and Homer Avenue were completed mid-October. Kennedy Parkway was outfitted with a new gravity-fed storm sewer system, including catch basins, that should be able to handle the water coming off Route 13 (Clinton Avenue) during heavy rainfalls; and new storm sewers were installed at the corner in front of the Cortland Regional Medical Center on Homer Avenue.
The roughly $300,000 cost of the Kennedy Parkway and Homer Avenue improvements is folded into the total $2 million cost of sewer system upgrades.
The Common Council issued $3.9 million in bonds for the work in September 2006, with some of that money going toward upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant.
Per a state Department of Environmental Conservation mandate, the city is required to shore up leaky sanitary sewer lines. The leaks allowed groundwater to infiltrate the system, resulting in the city exceeding its allowable limits for treated sewage discharged to the Tioughnioga River by the wastewater treatment plant.
The method to fix the sanitary sewers is called “slip lining,” involves feeding a plastic-type material into the sewer lines and then hardening it with a blast of superheated water and steam.




Local organizations work together to plan care-giving classes

Staff Reporter

A local long-term care company has joined with other home care and insurance companies to offer free classes to teach local residents how to face the challenges of care giving.
The effort was initiated by Long Term Care Associates Inc.,  an independent broker owned by Susan Suben, who consults specifically about long-term care insurance and long-term care planning. Organizers created the Caring Circle Institute with the help of the Walden Place Assisted Living Community, Wells Fargo and Comfort Keepers, a home care company.
The classes will be held from January to June 2008 at the Walden Place Assisted Living Community, 839 Bennie Road, Cortlandville, and will focus on a multitude of issues, including community resources, legal planning, home care, long-term planning, hospice, family dynamics and financial planning.
“It’s a broad range of topics and I think people will walk away with a lot of good information,” Suben said. “The most important thing we are trying to get across to people is to plan for the future.”
Around 12 speakers, including Peter Haidt, caregiver and author of “The Boomers Guide to Adult Care,” are expected to attend the Caring Circle Institute’s kickoff celebration from 4 to 5 p.m. Dec. 4  at 31 Greenbush St., the Long Term Care Associates building.
Suben said she was hoping to have the Caring Circle Institute’s kickoff celebration this week, which is National Long Term Care Awareness week, however there were too many issues.
The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the national trade organization serving insurance and financial professionals who market long-term care financial solutions, declared Nov. 5 through Nov. 11 National Long Term Care Awareness week in 2007.
“Long-term care is a big issue. There is a huge national campaign for early planning. If planning is done before a crisis occurs families will be able to handle it more confidently,” Suben said. “I’m dedicated to educating individuals about long-term care and helping them understand long-term care insurance.”