December 10, 2006

Toys for Tots program gives children an early Christmas


Photos by Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Ashantee St. John, 4, of Cortland, reacts after seeing what Santa has given her for Christmas — a Dancing Princess Barbie — during the Toys For Tots program at the New York State Grange Saturday morning. The program is sponsored by the Marine Corps League.  

Staff Reporter

There was a low murmur in the basement of the New York State Grange headquarters at Grange Place, Cortland, as more than 100 children and their parents awaited the arrival of Santa Claus.
Eyes turned to the door, and there was a chorus of “Santa Claus” as the signature black boots and red suit came into view.
Tears, hugs and overall excitement filled the children as Santa gave each of them an early Christmas gift. The children were there as part of the Toys for Tots program sponsored by the local chapter of the Marine Corps League.
Brian Rozewski, director of Cortland County Head Start, said the Toys for Tots program has been done locally for more than a decade. Children who attend the Head Start program and their families were invited to the event with Santa.
“Each year it gets better,” Rozewski said. “It is one of the only chances some of these kids will get a new unwrapped toy. A lot of families won’t have a chance to get toys for Christmas.”
Ashantee St. John’s gray eyes brightened Saturday as Santa handed her Dancing Princess Barbie.
“I wanted a princess,” Ashantee, 4, said as she kissed her gift.
Perry Roupe, a member of the Marine Corps League and a first-timer to the Toys for Tots program, said it was one of “the more fun projects” the league participated in. During the summer, he said, “we are on funeral detail” for deceased veterans.
“It’s nice,” Roupe said of Saturday’s event. “It’s great to see the looks on the kids’ faces.”
Karisa Breed, 4, mimicked Santa’s outfit, donning a bright red hat, red jumper dress and black shoes.
 Karissa was given the Littlest Pet Shop for her gift. “I like the kitty,” she said, pointing to a small white kitten still encased in plastic.
“She really wanted to come down here with all her friends,” said her mother, Karoline McCauley.
Kyle Krouch, 7, got exactly what he wanted from Santa. He asked for a Bionicle — a superhero made out of Legos. Santa was happy to oblige. Kyle received the same toy last year, but it was green, the one from Santa was brown.
Trudy Glendering, family services coordinator for Head Start, said the children were excited to see Santa. Approximately 250 children were signed up for the program this year. Glendering said newborns to 7-year-olds are eligible for gifts through Toys for Tots.
Just as the children were happy to see Santa, he was equally excited to see them.
“I love the kids off course,” said Matt Kemak, who played Santa for Saturday’s event. “This is my favorite time of year. My elves are keeping busy for all these beautiful girls and boys.”
Marine Corps League Commandant Norm Stitzel said the toys come from all over Cortland County. He said the majority of the toys given on Saturday came from the Marine Corps League warehouse in Syracuse.
He said the Disabled American Veterans chapter in Cortland in Cortland County donated a check for $750 to help supply the toys.
“We try to support our community in the same way we supported our nation,” Stitzel said.
Stitzel said other toys, from the coveted Tickle Me Elmo to Bratz dolls, were donated by people.
“It’s overwhelming to see the generosity,” Stitzel said.
Sara Stevely, 4, told Santa she wanted a doll. When he handed her an Ariel Bubble Mermaid she hugged him.
“Giving him a hug was quite an accomplishment,” said Sara’s mother, Kelly Stevely. She said Sara was a “little autistic” and she only gives hugs to family.



TC3 OKs plan for dorm

Staff Reporter

The Tompkins Cortland Community College Board of Trustees decided Thursday to pursue the construction of a sixth residence hall that would house between 120 and 140 students.
There are already five residence halls on the Dryden campus, although the fifth dorm has not been completed yet. Robert Ross, dean of college services, said students could start moving things into the fifth dorm today, but would not be allowed to live there until the spring semester.
About 100 students are living in temporary quarters at the Holiday Inn in Cortland because the dorm was not ready by the start of the school year. The five residence halls have a total capacity of about 550 students.
TC3 President Carl Haynes said the Foundation Board also has passed a similar resolution, pending the trustee approval. He said the major obstacle to construction has been the moratorium on building in the Dryden sewer district that serves TC3 — Cortland Road Sewer District.
“Right now we are at the mercy of Dryden sewer,” Haynes said. He said flow monitors have been installed to determine whether there is additional capacity. He said the college should have answers in February or March, and if allowed to build, another residence hall should be ready for fall of 2008. If not allowed to build, the project would be delayed a year, allowing the village to build a new plant. That would take about two years.
Also at the meeting, Ross reported that the position of part-time registered nurse would be filled for the Health Center after the Faculty Student Association approved it earlier Thursday. He said originally the plan was to hire a secretary, but because the center will be paperless, this position was not needed. Instead, the part-time position was added to help deliver the best service possible.
Ross said students did present their concerns about the $25 health fee assessed at the beginning of the fall semester even though the center was not open. Students had asked for a reduced fee in the spring.
Ross said it was justified because Health Center Director Shari Shapleigh explained that one visit to the health center would more than pay for the cost each semester.




Bombing settlement funded cat clinic

Staff Reporter

A substantial amount of the start-up capital used to create Purr Fect World Inc. came from a multi-billion dollar settlement that followed the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 disaster, according to Internal Revenue Service documents.
Purr Fect World President Lisa K. Alderman, 46, used $150,000 of a $6 million settlement that her family received to fund her nonprofit organization, according to paperwork Purr Fect World filed seeking tax exemption in 2004. The organization began with a total of $459,875 in revenue.
Alderman is now facing criminal charges in relation to that corporation after nearly 300 cats were seized in September from a clinic and home the organization owns on Wheeler Avenue in Cortland.
“(Alderman) is the benefactor of certain death benefits from the Libyan Pan Am flight 103 Lockerbie disaster as she lost relatives in the flight, she is contributing $150,000 to this organization …,” wrote attorneys from Riehlman Shafer and Shafer, a Tully law firm that represented Purr Fect World in the filing.
Ten years after the plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland the Libyan government paid a $2.7 billion settlement to the families of the 270 victims who died in the terrorist attack on Dec. 21, 1988.
According to BBC News, Libya agreed to a $2.7 billion settlement in 1998, which gave $6 million to each victim’s family, after legal fees.
Alderman’s older sister, Paula Marie Bouckley, and brother in-law Glenn Bouckley died when a time bomb destroyed their airliner in midair over Lockerbie,  according to a story published in the Syracuse Post Standard on Dec. 23, 1988.
Glenn Bouckley, a native of Great Britain, and Paula Marie Bouckley, both 27 when they died, were returning from Glenn’s brother’s wedding in England, the story said.