Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Games for the greater good

By Madison Winters

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — The first Special Olympics International Summer Games took in 1968. The organization has grown into 226 worldwide locations serving hundreds of thousands of volunteers and participants. The Olympics feature over 30 Olympic-style individual and team sports that provide individualized training and competition opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.
According to its website,, the goal of the organization is to “Encourage people with intellectual disabilities to discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success.”
Rogers is the communication liaison for the national branch of the Special Olympics. Rogers is responsible for connecting regional branches to venues and providing the funding necessary to execute the events.
“At any given time, we're planning 45-50 Special Olympic events,” she said. “Whether it’s a pancake breakfast for local participants and sponsors or the Olympics themselves, there's always something in the works.”
Rogers said that seeing the athletes find happiness and gain a sense of accomplishment it what gets her though the stressful days at work.
Martha Rhodes is the manager of the capital region branch of the Special Olympics.
Rhodes works with athletes, coaches and volunteers from Albany, Columbia, Greene, Hamilton, Fulton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie Washington and Warren Counties.
Rhodes first encounter with the Special Olympics was in 1981 during her sophomore year of college.
Rhodes was newly inducted into a sorority and was looking for community service hours.
“My professor’s son was participating in the games that year, he knew that they needed more volunteers so he mentioned it during class,” she said. “I went straight to the community service office and signed up for a variety of tasks.”
Rhodes said that after seeing the smiles on the participant’s faces and noticing how much this organization really does change the lives of so many people, make her change career paths. Rhodes graduated with a degree in business and began her career with the Special Olympics two weeks after graduation.
Rhodes day to day responsibilities center on communication with the national board for the organization. She sends approximately 100 emails each day. She said that each day she receives 10-15 “Thank you” messages. She said that those messages are what motivate her to work harder each day to make each event one that each participant, family member and onlooker will remember for a life time.
Plattsburgh resident, Katie Conelly, has grown up attending the Special Olympics and fund raising event's for the organization. Conelly looks forward to attending the Special Olympics each year because she understand the lasting impact they can have on participants, family member and people who come to show support.
“The morning of the games, I wake up with a smile on my face,” she said. “being a part of something so special to someone that I love means the absolute world to me.”
Conelly's younger brother Noah, born with Downs Syndrome, participates in the Special Olympics each year. The family attends event for the Olympics year round, but nothing compares to the excitement on the day of the Special Olympics.
“I can never sleep during the night before the Olympics,” Noah Conelly said. “When I wake up I eat a big breakfast so I can run really fast.”
Noah said that the two hour drive to the venue where the Olympics is very serious. Noah doesn't speak because he wants everyone to think that he's thinking about his events.
“But I'm just too excited to talk really,” he said.
Noah said that volunteers, like his sister Katie, are what really make the games “so fun.”
Katie said that each person volunteers for a different reason but at the end of the day its all about making the day special for the participants.
“Some of them count down the days until the event for an entire year, you have to make their dreams come true,” she said.
Emily Defrancesco attended Plattsburgh's polar plunge this past Sunday at Plattsburgh City Beach to support a friend’s uncle who has Down Syndrome. Defrancesco said she really enjoys the event because it shows how much people really do support the organization and all that it does.
“Waking up early to jump into freezing water certainly isn't my idea of a perfect morning,” she said. “Watching the wall of people run towards the ice cold water with smiles of their faces, that to me is what makes it all worthwhile.
This year marked Martha Matthews fifth, participating in a polar plunge. Matthews, a Plattsburgh resident, works with children diagnosed with intellectual abilities. Aside from participating in fundraisers and donating to the organization, Matthews volunteers every year at two separate Special Olympics.
Matthews said that the atmosphere of the polar plunge is what really sets it apart from other events.
“There's always music, people are dancing and singing,” she said. “Seeing the group costumes are one of my favorite parts, some people are so creative.”
Matthews said that while running toward the water she enjoys seeing the smile on the faces of the Special Olympics participants. After the plunge, there are always enough hugs and towels to go around she said.
Matthews said that her daughter participated in the plunge last year and forgot to bring a towel, so she took Matthews while she was still in the water.

“I was freezing. I felt a little hand touch my back and I turned around and saw a little boy holding a towel, a hat and some hot chocolate.” Matthews said, “He looked at me and said “Thank you for doing what you did, I really like playing sports and you are helping me do that.”


Child advocacy center

By Noelle Tedford

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y.--The Clinton County Health and Safety committee meeting was held on Monday Nov. 9, 2015. The committee consisted of Robert Hall, public safety and county legislator; Jonathan Beach, county legislator; John Gallagher, county legislator; Pete Keenan; Michael Zurlow, county administrator; and Robby Timmons, legislator elect.
            During the meeting Richelle Gregory spoke about the Child Advocacy Center. The CAC is a child-focused center that facilitates the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse while helping abused children heal mentally and physically. Gregory runs the CAC for Clinton County, Essex County, Franklin County and St. Regis Mohawk County.
            “Our mission is to decrease trauma to victims for children of sexual and severe physical abuse,” said Gregory. “We decrease trauma by having a child-friendly interview station, instead of in the home where the perpetration probably occurred.”
            Gregory works with a team of professionals including: Department of Social Services, state police, city PD, mental health, probation, medical home, pediatrician, and the District Attorney. Outside of her disciplinary team Gregory partners with Beekmantown Central School. Technology has provided a breakthrough for CAC with the process of reporting abuse. Across the street from Beekmantown Central School is a room with a satellite feed to the school. This allows for victims to report abuse without people in the school becoming aware of CPS and CAC conducting an investigation. This helps the child remain more discrete during their reporting process. Beekmantown is the first case study to do this.
            The CAC opened in 2009. In 2010, 90 children reported being victims of abuse. That number is up to 230 for 2015 states Gregory. With the use of CAC centers children feel safer and more secure.
            “It’s about creating a safety net for these kids and the better our net gets the more children we can bring in with community education and better services,” said Gregory.
            Rich Holcomb, the Deputy Commissioner at Plattsburgh Department Social Services explained that the relationship between DSS and CAC is a very strong one.
            “CAC works closely with our CPS unit,” said Holcomb. “They provide a nice environment for kids to help reduce trauma.”
            Another member of the DSS is Christine Peters. Peters is the Director of Legal and Services for the Foster Care branch.
            “Basically the CAC is designed to minimize impact of trauma on children. We try to be the single point of access interviewing at CAC in a child-friendly environment,” said Peters. “Our review team coordinates any examination or procedures that need to be done right at the CAC.”
            Eliminating multiple interviews and examinations is a huge benefit for the abused child’s psyche. Instead, children are brought to the CAC where they tell their story to their assigned case manager. While the story is told law enforcement, lawyers, and CPS listens from behind a mirrored glass window. This way the child feels safe and is familiar with the case manager. The hope is to minimize trauma and proactively seek the appropriate measures to begin the healing process.
            Recently the CAC was given a new vehicle for transportation.
            “How are you making out with the new vehicle,” asked Hall at the Health and Safety meeting.
            Gregory explained that she decided not to detail the new vehicle with the CAC logo for confidentiality purposes. The CAC wants children to feel as safe as possible in every aspect of recovery. With her annual grant, Gregory recently brought in Cory Jewell Jensen. Jensen has been working with child abuse cases for over 50 years. Jensen travels around speaking to and educating communities on how to treat and protect from child abuse.
            Legislator Zurlow said: “The program has been good and it hasn’t cost us a nickel yet.”
            Child abuse is a delicate matter that must be approached with the utmost caution. Gregory and her team at CAC are providing a safe-haven for children to go and recover from seemingly devastating situations while, at the same time, working with the abusers to make sure the abuse doesn’t continue.


A different type of christmas gift

By Vicky Scott

This year, 104,000 children are in need of a very special Christmas gift; the gift of a home. The U.S. foster care system in Plattsburgh is looking for people to give this gift this season.  
Prospective adoptive families don't have to have a lot of money or own their home. Parents can be married or single. A prospective adoptive family must demonstrate that they can provide a permanent home for a child or a sibling group, and they can provide a safe environment and support the child’s physical health, mental health, and educational and social needs. Could you be the perfect parent to one of them?
Breanna Miller, a senior at SUNY Plattsburgh with a 4.0 GPA in the hospitality, tourism and restaurant management program, was in foster care until the age of 5, when she was adopted by Jamie and Brian Miller. Breanna was only placed in two other homes before she met Jamie and Brian. During Breanna’s time with them, her birth parent’s parental rights were terminated and she was eligible for adoption. After spending over a year with her, Jamie and Brian knew they wanted to make her a permanent member of the Miller family.
“It was a lot of paperwork and course work to ensure we knew what we were signing up for; it was certainly worth it,” said Jamie. Brian explained the process took 15 months between the orientation, preparation classes and home study requirements but was easier because Breanna was already in their home as a foster child, making the transition smoother.
Martine Lamar, a retired police officer, explained that transitions from home to home are usually not as smooth when there are serious custody issues or the child has experienced abuse from their original home. “I can not tell you how many times I was called to locate a missing child who was in foster care and ran away from home. It is very disheartening, they need some place they feel safe and welcome,” said Lamar. Foster care and adoption are not for everyone, said Lamar, which is why it is crucial for people to undergo the orientation and classes to fully understand what it is like to bring another person into their family.
If the experience is poor for the child, the behaviors at home will carry over into their school day.
Chelsea Strong, a childhood education major at SUNY Plattsburgh, has experienced this first hand. While she has worked in a handful of the local schools, she has noticed which children have been struggling academically and socially because of tension at home. “We do everything we can for them while at school so they can feel accepted and safe. We are aware of the students who are in foster care or are in the process of being adopted and we do our best to make the transition smooth for them in the classroom,” said Strong.
“I was so lucky to have a smooth transition from foster care to being adopted,” said Breanna, “you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” Jamie and Brian helped Breanna get involved in basketball and lacrosse at a young age and would help her with homework after family dinners. The Miller family visited Plattsburgh and Breanna has been excelling since she arrived. Brian said, “We are very proud of everything Brea has accomplished; we are proud to call her our daughter.”


Skunks, foxes, and raccoons, oh my!

By Sarah McMullen

PLATTSBURGH N.Y.- Seven Plattsburgh City council members gathered around a mahogany table on November 12, 2015, at 5:30 in the evening. The members began rapidly tabling, approving and denying possible events, projects and laws. There was little hesitation when many topics arose. However about half way through the meeting there seemed to be a disagreement about a pending law.

            The law pending law being discussed was in regards to wild animals being a nuisance is the surrounding community. The law states, “ Harboring, Keeping or Feeding pigeons, and Other Animals Unlawful “No person, firm corporation, or association shall intentionally feed, harbor, or keep any pigeons and other wild animals, including but not limited to raccoons, deer, skunk, opossums, coyotes, birds, squirrels or fox within the City of Plattsburgh, New York. This section does not apply to bird feeders.”
            City council member, Mike Kelly stood his ground when the subject of the pending law came up. Kelly was unsettled by the wording of the nuisance declared. “The unnatural present of pigeons, and other wild animals, including but not limited to raccoons, deer, skunk, opossums, coyotes, birds, squirrels or fox, in the City of Plattsburgh, New York is hereby declared to be a public nuisance, the same being a menace to the health of the community.”
            Kelly felt that skunks and a few of the animals listed should not to be known the community as a nuisance. Kelly said, “ I even find skunks to be enjoyable from a distance.”  Kelly persisted that the wording of the nuisance declaration be changed so that it is more respectful to the animals and so that the law would not be taken out of context by residents.

            Kelly’s remarks were quickly countered by city council member Dale Dowdle. Dowdle agreed with the nuisance declared. Dowdle brought up a few instances when community members had found the animals stated in the law a nuisance. Dowdle said, “Someone thought a fox killed their dogs. There was evidence because of the paw prints in the snow.” Dowdle also went on to say that there had been times when skunks have gotten in people’s houses and that created havoc.

            However, veterinarian, Sarah Cutler, voiced the importance of watching your animals when they are outside. Throughout Cutlers years of practice she has seen the worst animal attacks on both dogs and cats. Cutler said, “Though it is your property it is still nature and wild animals don’t know a property line. They could possibly see your animal as a threat and that is why many domestic animals are attacked.” Cutler stressed that feeding wild animals can also contribute to the level of comfort and dominance that wild animals have around your property.
            A Resident of the local area, Katie Laporte, who also attended the council meeting that night was in agreement with Dowdle’s remarks. A few nights earlier prior to the meeting Laporte was walking to her apartment’s parking lot when she noticed a fluffy black and white animal hopping between the parked cars. Laporte’s car was parked on the other side of the lot so she had to walk in the complete opposite direction to reach her car. Laporte was also in a rush and found that the skunk’s presence was frustrating. Laporte said, “It was so annoying. I had to walk around my entire house to get to my car because I was afraid I was going to get sprayed.”
LaPorte isn’t the only resident having problems with animals being where they shouldn’t.
            Nicole Hoffman, a local to the area explained her experience with a squirrel  coming into her house while she was unloading groceries one day. Hoffman said, “One day I was taking the groceries out of my car when a squirrel ran inside my house while my front door was open. It took me about an hour to finally get it out of my house.” Hoffman was completely agitated because of the amount of germs that a squirrel has and how she had to clean her house because she didn’t want to take any chances getting sick.

            The adoption of this law was passed with a 3 to 2 vote. There is now a strain on the residents’ interaction with the wildlife. This law stresses to let the wildlife be, so that the residents will no longer be bothered. Locals hope that these animals will return to seclusion so that resident’s everyday activities can continue to be uninterrupted by such nuisances.


Child support enforcement

By Kyle Richardson

PLATTSBURGH—Children are the focal point when it comes to enforcing Child Support.  The purpose of Child Support is not to punish or inconvenience a parent, but to ensure children receive the necessary financial support from both parents.
            According to, If you are a teenage father, your child and New York state sees you not as a teenager but a father, therefore you are responsible to provide for your child. You are required to pay child support until your child is 21 years old, even if you are a student or do not have a job. Even if the mother gets married or receives temporary assistance you are still obligated to pay child support. 
            “Child support should uplift the family and sometimes hurt and emotions from divorce or separation stand in the way of doing what's best for the child,” said Derrick Denteh, Plattsburgh resident and school counselor. “If the amount asked is incompatible to the financial stability of the parent then I think there should be a compromise, in some instances parents have used it for their own benefit.”
            To apply for child support you have to go to your local Child Support Enforcement Program and they will help you find absent parents, legally prove who is the father, obtain child support orders, enforce child support orders and collect and pay out child support. 
            You are required by law to pay your child support.  If you do not pay, the amount you owe adds up and is called arrears which collect interest. Child support collects arrears and interest by garnishing your wages, take your state and federal income tax refund, seize your bank account, suspend your driver's license, deny your passport renewal, suspend your professional and occupational license and request jail time.
            Jade, local resident, agrees with child support but acknowledges flaws that may be in the system. “I agree with child support; however, as far as the system is actually run, the sole beneficiary should be the child and there are many flaws that don’t make it fair for not only the parents but the children as well.”
            The Kansas Supreme Court adopted new child support guidelines this year.  Child support payments are expected to increase up to 3.5 percent under these new guidelines. Federal law requires states to update their child support guidelines every four years. Although the new guidelines won't affect existing court orders, it is still a topic of concern.
            “It just depends on how good the relationship between the father and mother is.  If he or she is willing to have an agreement upon visitation and money, there no need for a court to get involved.  No court should have a decision on how parents should raise their child,” said Jalyn Brown, student at Long Island University.
“I agree with child support, but mothers should have to prove that those payments are spent on their child,” said Majestic Griggs, student at Plattsburgh.
Many people have the mindset that child support only favors mothers.  The system says that its sole purpose is to benefit children; however, most children are in the custody of their mother who is the one receiving the checks.  The problem people have is that there is no system in place to prove those checks are being spent on the child.
            In the entertainment industry, this is a big concern. Women seeking out wealthy men and reap hundreds of thousands of dollars in child support. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the median household income was $51,759 in 2014. Where is all that extra money going?
            The inherent bias in the child support system is a growing concern for men in this society.  Although all women aren't seeking personal benefit, the system leaves room for manipulation.

New projects coming from board meeting

By Laura Schmidt

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — The Plattsburgh Public Library Board of Trustees held a meeting late Oct. to discuss ways to improve the standards of the library environment for the upcoming year.
            Shirley O'Conner, vice president of the Board of Trustees, called the meeting to order on Oct. 27 in the smart room of the public library. Since all of these meetings are open to the public, individuals such as members of the library staff and other representatives were present as well.
            Seven men and women of the board sat at a round table underneath a new lighting fixture the library just installed. The meeting was called to order at 4:32 p.m. by O'Conner.
            The meeting began with a call for concern about a vacant librarian position that needs to be filled immediately. Joseph Dugan, who works in the children section of the library, voiced his opinion on the pertinence of filling the position.
            “I think we should hire the new librarian as soon as possible,” Dugen said. “We could always use more employees to help make the library more functional and fun for everyone.”
            A library page, Don Little, who is responsible for putting books and other items in the correct place and keeping the library orderly, stood behind Dugen's statement. Little explained how the library “is short-staffed enough as it is” and it would be “really great to have new faces around here.”
            After brief whispers, the board unanimously agreed with the statements of all who spoke and decided to make to a priority to begin the process of taking applications and resumes in order to hire a qualified individual.
            Jennifer Creed, a member of the board, started the next discussion of installing an interactive whiteboard for the library and when it will be officially purchased and put in. A few members weren't agreeing completely with the big purchase but others quickly explained how it would be a worthwhile purchase.
            “It would be $1,300 plus installation which would be a bit more than we usually spend on one item,” Kerry Lee, member of the board, said. “But I think it would be a wise investment down the road.”
            “I agree,” O'Conner said. “I believe we should continue through with our current plans to try and get it installed by mid-December.”
            The board went on to discuss things such as the upcoming 2016 budget and how buying the whiteboard, hiring new employees and other expenses may affect the new year.
            The next big expense on their list for the upcoming year is a new security system. The system is rather expensive, about $10,000 to be specific. The board’s resistance seems natural but with certain grants they hope to have the money available within a few months.
            “The new security system is definitely necessary,” Creed said. “The one we're using now has too many glitches and shuts down too much. It isn't safe.”
            The meeting then began bouncing ideas around of how to create revenue for the library. Some offered the idea to extend invitations to frequent visitors to take part in activities held such as small group painting classes and poetry days.
            After another short discussion to brainstorm possible dates for these events, the meeting began to end.
            The board has a lot of big plans towards revitalizing the library and using what resources they have wisely. O'Conner believes 2016 will be “a growing year for the library.” The Board of Trustees meeting will be held Nov. 24 in the smart room of the Plattsburgh Public Library and, as always, all are welcome.


Higher education equals better experience

By Angela Lince

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Plattsburgh’s YMCA will be hosting an event, “Kids Night Out”, this Saturday Nov. 21st, which will allow school-aged children, 5 through 12, to swim, rock climb, play games and enjoy crafts while eating pizza. A fee of $13 will be given to members. Non-members must pay a fee of $15. Along with the YMCA’s enjoyable, stress-free environment, other programs in the Plattsburgh area target the same ideal concept: Child Day Care that enriches the lives of children.
                 Provided by the Clinton County Department of Social Service program, there is a “Child Care Development Block grant to working parents receiving financial assistance (TANF) or as a low income subsidy in an effort to assist them in becoming more self-sufficient. The family's eligibility for a child day care subsidy is based on their need and their household income. Child day care services are provided on either a formal or informal basis,” according to the Clinton County Department of Social Services website.
                 “Have the providers been given background checks? How do you know it’s safe? Is the education-portion of the day-care beneficial to my child?” These are very important questions you should be asking yourself before sending your child off to a local day-care facility.
                Executive Director at Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, Jamie Basiliere, is your guide to seeking out the best child-care options. Through the child-care and referral program, she provides on sight technical assistance to people and recruits child care directors. Basiliere explains that meeting qualifications in order to teach are very important. Depending on the situation, someone looking to pursue in a family day-care in their own home, must be 18 years of age, obtaining a high school diploma. You must attend an orientation / information session, complete an application packet, as well as, also becoming certified in CPR and 1st aid (up to date). The potential provider must also attend the 15 hour health and safety course. Once registered in all mentioned above, the person must have 30 hours of professional development, which must be done every 2 years.
                Basiliere also introduced the situation in whether a person wants to work for a child-care center. A child care center is similar to SUNY Plattsburgh’s on-campus day-care, as well as the YMCA’S Bright Beginnings program. For these positions, you must have a college degree. According to the NYS Office of Children and Family Services’ regulations for child-care services, a group teacher for preschoolers (3 to 5 years old) must obtain only an Associate’s degree in either Early Childhood, Child Development or a related field. For a group teacher for infants/toddlers (6 weeks old through 2 years), you must have the same educational requirements as for preschool caring, except you must have one year experience related to caring for infants and toddlers.
                Group teachers for school-age children (5 to 10 years old) must have an Associate’s degree in Child Development, Elementary Education, Physical Education, Recreation or a related field. Assistant teachers (all age groups) must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. There are other educational qualification choices for all potential teachers listed. Child-care center employees undergo a series of training, like one with family care would provide. Both share similar qualifications.
                The Plattsburgh’s YMCA’s School-Age Child Care Director, Christina Santor, is responsible for the school-age child morning program. For the three years of her service there at the center, she’s been responsible for most of the enriching activities. She’s able to pick and choose which candidate would be right and able for job openings as well. When looking at a perfect resume, Santor expects to see “previous experience, a degree in education, human services, or any other that is equivalent.” If the person applying is still a student, for example, SUNY Plattsburgh’s education-opportunity for students called, “Project Connect”, she sees they can apply what they are currently learning to the job that’s being offered.
                Human Development and Early Childhood Lecturer at SUNY Plattsburgh, Nancy Hughes, is a small part of something bigger at the college. Hughes prepares students for the real world of child-care. Her courses offer students the ability to understand child development (physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally). She teaches her students how to; develop plans, set up environment plans, develop schedules, understand the appropriate environment and materials, store things appropriately, as well as guide, prevent, and intervene a child’s behavior/misbehavior. From there, the course covers a child’s motor skills, as well as the math, science, literacy, art/music/drama criteria. Most importantly, the communication and work system held between the teacher and parent, as well as the understanding of children with special needs.
                Hughes goal as the student’s professor is to “give them the capability of setting up an appropriate program for preschool children.”
                “Misbehaviors are opportunities for learning,” Hughes says, stating how the quote has always stuck with her. “It’s a frequent reminder,” she adds.
                Before teaching, potential employees must also undergo a series of background checks. Both Basiliere and Santor emphasized the importance of these precautions. There are mandatory criminal history statement form one must fill out (which is accompanied with a review), finger printing, external phone calls to professional references, and much more. All of these requirements make sure your child is safe.
                Director of SUNY Plattsburgh’s Child Care Center, Sally Girard, says, "The ability of staff to provide young children with safe, healthy and good learning environments is clearly linked to their education and training in early childhood development, and their experience.”


A long road ahead to replace Short

By Anthony Calabrese

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y.- Plattsburgh City District Superintendent James M. Short has announced his plans for retirement for the next school year. He has served as top school administrator since July 2006.

The Plattsburgh City School District Board of Education will begin the search for a new superintendent. According to Jay Lebrun, Associate Superintendent Plattsburgh School District, the search process is expected to take at least four months.

David Barooduy, Plattsburgh High School Assistant Principal said, “The Board of Education will initially meet and discuss a variety of topics including, should they use a search firm? What type of candidates should they be looking for? And what process should be used to screen/evaluate possible candidates?” 

“We will do a statewide search which will involve sending out information to certain media sites, we will set deadlines, pay scale, and qualifications. We will form committees to do the interviews and help the Board in our Ultimate decision,” said Tract Rotz, Vice President Plattsburgh City School District.

In addition, Baroodey and Lebrun note that the roles and responsibilities of the Plattsburgh school board of education include picking groups to interview prospective candidates, and determine the costs for the entire process.

Short said, “The Board of Education is working with Dr. Mark Davey, BOCES Superintendent for his services to conduct a state-wide Superintendent search. BOCES Superintendents commonly perform this service for local schools. A position advertisement brochure and series of media posts will be developed in the near future and should be out circulating just prior to the December break. Advertising will continue through February.”

Once applicants have been narrowed down in February, to two or three, a next step is to have “The Board of Education and series of smaller committees conduct longer interviews with final few candidates.” said Lebrun. “Perhaps one with Teachers, one with Administrators, one with support staff or one with parents. This may also include a visit to the candidates' home district to meet colleagues.”

“During March the Board will conduct a series of interview steps involving the greater school community. The plan is to have the new Superintendent named by April. Most schools require administrators to provide a 90 day notice if they are leaving for another position. April allows for the person to be ready to begin in Plattsburgh by July 1” said Short.

Lebrun agrees, “In March the board appoints the selected candidate and approves the negotiated contract.  The chosen Superintendent will then spend April, May and June meeting with various staff and community members, working with outgoing Superintendent, etc., before beginning work on July 1.”

Some of the challenges discussed by the Plattsburgh City School Board of Education that the New Superintendent will walk into include taking care of the merging of athletics in Plattsburgh and Chazy schools, and also the High Stakes tests that they are making all the school take.

“Although Local area mergers, such as the one between Westport and Elizabethtown-Lewis Central schools are not an immediate concern to the new candidate.” Dawn Stetz, Secretary to Superintendent & District Clerk said, “We haven’t and are not in the process of doing so.” As soon as a new superintendent is picked he will begin to look into all of these last minute problems that need to be solved.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Flu is not for you

By Sarah McMullen

Plattsburgh N.Y.- Runny nose, sore throat, high fever, aching body. Those are just a few symptoms of the nasty of the influenza virus that strikes the nation during the winter months. People are starting to take precautions to battle the chances of getting the flu. One of the most commonly practiced protection method is receiving the flu vaccination.
On the other hand there are still many who would prefer not to get the vaccination. In fact, In the numbers of vaccinations administered in Clinton County have dropped by 377. Which begs the question what does Clinton County residents, more specifically Plattsburgh residents happens to those that are not protected by the vaccine and what precautionary measures made.
            Parents in the surrounding area have mixed opinions on how the flu is preventable. Starting at home seems to be the number one place that most families start planning and trying to stop the invasion of the flu virus. For one mother, Molly Leclair, the best way to prevent getting the flu is getting the vaccination. Leclair knows that the vaccine isn’t 100 percent preventable.
However Leclair will take all the help she can get to make sure her son doesn’t come down with the flu. Leclair said, “The best way my family and I avoided the flu is to get the vaccine and wash your hands. There have been plenty of outbreaks of the flu in Plattsburgh that it should be mandated that you get the vaccine. It could help out a lot of people.” Leclair brings up a valid point that getting the vaccine could definitely help many people during the upcoming flu season. But what about the the outstanding statistic that the flu only protected 32 percent of the people who received it.
Leah Briody a student at SUNY Plattsburgh was one of the first to receive her flu shot from the University’s health center. Although she received the vaccine, two months later she contracted the virus and was bedridden for a week. Briody has voiced her disappointment in the vaccine because she was trying to take precautionary measures to not get the flu.
Briody, an active member in her community knows many others who received the flu shot last year and contracted the virus as well. “From now on I am going to just wash my hands because it is a waste of time and money to go to the doctors and get a flu shot. If I want to get a flu shot in the future I am just going to go to the pharmacy” said Briody. Though there is a negative stigma rather than your doctors that comes with getting your flu shot at the pharmacy it is slowly going away.
People are finding it easier to stop by the pharmacy for a flu shot than making a doctor's appointment and paying the copay. One pharmacy that participates in administering flu shots is Plattsburgh Walgreens administers flu shots all year round. Kelly Fletler is a pharmacist there and has been administering flu shots for two years. Fletler has taken notice that senior citizens have taken advantage of the opportunity while younger people deny the option when asked.
            Fletler understands that the flu shot is not 100 percent effective but believes it’s the best precaution to take. “The flu shot is projected to attack the strain of flu that has began to spread. Getting the flu shot is just a good way to get a jump start on the fight of flu season.”
Though the younger generation is not necessarily stopping by the local Walgreens the SUNY Plattsburgh health center has been on top of distributing flu shots to students. Candice Hall a nurse at the center. Says that the whole campus suffered an outbreak of the flu during January 2014. More than 100 students showed symptoms of the flu and were treated for it. Hall said, “Getting the flu shot may not help everyone but it is useful as a just in case. The Flu is really debilitating virus. Most students who come down with it are out of classes for around a week.” Hall went on to elaborate why the flu is contracted so easily on campus and stressed the importance of taking care of your body during the flu season.
The Clinton County Health Department is also making strides to keep the county healthy. On their website the first thing they have shown is a link leading the viewer to an array of links of resources. The link describes why there is a need for people to get the flu shot, “As determined by the Centers for Disease Control, the viruses in a flu shot and FluMist vaccine change each year based on scientists' tests about which types and strains of the flu will be the most strong that year.” This is a resource for many people in the county to utilize.

The flu comes every year and this year there are hopes that there will be a decline in the amount of people who get the flu. Just remember a good start  beat the flu  to wash your hands and get your vitamin C.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

School boards put high stakes testing to the test

By Madison Winters

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Across New York State there's a push for a revaluation of the information that is used to evaluate teachers. In a field where the actions of others reflect so heavily on measuring the success of an individual, would changes like these influence and inspire the next generation of educators?
Teachers came out of top during the Plattsburgh City School Boards last meeting. During the meeting board members voted on a new resolution that was presented to the board earlier this month by district taxpayer and parent Christy Bezrutczyk.
The result was a 6-2 vote in favor of the resolution.
The resolution plans to institute a series of changes to emphasize a curriculum rich in all areas of education and advocate for changes to the way students, schools and educators are evaluated.
According to the Press Republican, other action being taken for the resolution include protecting the privacy of student data, eliminate test practice and examining the Common Core curriculum standards to determine if they are developmentally appropriate,
Maryanne Daniels is a 7th grade math teacher and the parent of a Plattsburgh City School District student.
Daniels doesn't teach in Plattsburgh, but is excited that they are taking steps to address the serious issues surrounding the evaluations of teachers.
“Being an educator and hearing this news made me feel great but knowing that my son will experience these changes,” Daniels said. “I can't explain how relieved I am.”
Daniels son Jacob feels frustrated with state tests.
“We take them every year and there's always something that I don't know,” he said. “And I always pay attention in class.”
Jacob thinks that instead of taking tests teachers should let their students run the classroom for a day in order to show how much they've learned.
Being an educator herself, Daniels understands the pressure that educators fall under while trying to comply with the standards put in place by NYS.
According to the, educators are evaluated through a series of rubrics.
For example, when measuring a teachers conversational skills the rubrics compares her emotional support, classroom organization and instructional support and then divides that number by 3 and that corresponds to a level of effectiveness.
“Changing the ways that teachers are evaluated could make it easier for teachers to focus less on drilling the kids with information in hopes they will pass,” Daniels said. “Instead, they could help the individual student with a personalized approach.”
Education Student Melanie Sidoti is passionate about her major.
“I chose adolescent education because I feel as though teaching older children that are going through things that are not necessarily easy and maybe even awkward could help me form a good bond with them and give them confidence.” Sidoti said.
Like the majority of educators, Sidoti hopes to inspire her future students to reach their fullest potentials.
“someone to look up to/talk to and teach them information that will benefit them not only towards going to college and their career but information that will help them in their everyday life.” she said.
And again like a vast majority of teachers, Sidoti feels the pressure.
“Some things about my major that scares me are definitely state tests and regents exams.” Sidoti said. “I understand that they are a reflection on me as a teacher and it scares me that some kids care more than others.”
Sidoti thinks it's unreasonable for NYS to expect teachers to meet their standards when the standards and even the tests do not accommodate every student.
“I have to try and accommodate every child's learn ability and really tune into the way they learn (visually, hands on, etc,.).” she said. “it also makes me nervous I will have to deal with many different personalities, issues and differences throughout the classroom and I am going to learn how to approach every child in the best way possible so that they can achieve full potential which will definitely be a challenge.”
Megan Carrigan and Abigail Lemoy are juniors in high school. In June they plan to take the NYS chemistry and Algebra 2/Trigonometry regents exams. Carrigan took her first regents exam at the end of her ninth grade year. Lemoy who previously went to school in Vermont, has never taken a regents exam.
“When I was in ninth grade I remember my older friends saying “enjoy ninth grade because each year gets harder and harder” and of course I didn't believe them.” Carrigan said.
“People have tried to warn me about how hard the tests are,” Lemoy said. “It makes me really nervous.”
When Lemoy lived in Vermont she took their version of state tests. She said that the tests were easy in her opinion because they broke the information down into sections.
“My teacher would spend a couple months teaching us one a chunk of sections and we would build from there,” she said. “Before we moved on she would make up a fake test and if everyone passed we moved on.”
Carrigan said that she struggles with retaining the information that she learns during class and being able to apply it to the tests months later.
“Being used to the format of the test doesn't make it any easier,” she said. “You can have the same question five different ways but if you don't understand how to solve it, you're hopeless.”
Carrigan suggested that the tests should be given on a more regular basis so students would able to focus on a smaller amount of information at one time.
“If we had the tests 3 or 4 times a year it would break the information down into smaller sections,” she said. “It would be easier to remember a few chapters instead of an entire textbook.”


Building families one home at a time

By Noelle Tedford

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- Adoption is a family affair! November marks National Adoption Month across our nation. Do you know anyone looking to bring an addition into their family? Whether it be regular or foster-care adoption, there is an overwhelming amount of children looking for a loving home.
            Tasia Tedford, a 28-year-old female, explains that adoption does not have to be a result of failed pregnacies. Tedford has been contemplating adoption for several years now and is often faced with the question, why adoption and not natural birth? It is simple, there are so many loving little children that are in need of a good home environment and for Tedford rescuing and possibly changing a child’s life is the most rewarding factor of all.
            After deciding to adopt the next step is to choose how you want to adopt. There are two types of adoption; traditional-adoptions and foster-adoptions. Almost always, traditional-adoption is much more expensive than foster-adoption. Generally, the main reason for this is that the child is less likely to have been exposed to abuse or neglect. Paul Rascoe explains, the regular-adoption process is a lot cleaner as well because the birth parents have waived their rights as legal guardian. Interestingly enough, adoption prices vary based on ethnicity. Rascoe, a case worker for Clinton County Child Protective Services, deals with a lot foster-adoptions and foster-children.
            Foster-children tend to have some adjustment problems as a result of neglect, abuse, or addiction. To be sure that people wishing to go through with a foster-adoption really know how much work not only a child, but a child with a violent or questionable past is Child Protective Services mandate that potential parents attend 10 week training course. In addition to the course they are given a thorough background check.
            “There is such a need for foster care that they make it more accommodating.” Tyler Wilson, the parent of two successful foster-adoptions explains, “The process is much cheaper than traditional-adoption, which can cost anywhere for, 20 thousand dollars to 40 thousand dollars.”
            Wilson experienced the heartache of foster-adoption when he cared for his first child, Elias, who was eventually given back to his legal guardian for good behavior. However, this did not deter him from trying again. Now Wilson and his wife are the proud parents of two brothers, Lance and Hudson. While Wilson eventually used foster-adoption to mold his family into the unit it was always meant to be, for some people the pain of losing a child you have become attached to is to much to bare.
            Holly Price is a mother of a successful traditional-adoption. Price originally looked into foster-adoption only to have the child she was fostering get reinstated to a former abusive father after good behavior was proved on his end. It took Price almost two years before she was ready to consider adoption again.
            “How could Child Protective Services give this man a second chance, then a third? Where is the line drawn?” Price says, “I want to believe these people are really changed but why did they have to take my boy out of a great home with me?”
            Price’s thoughts on the experience she had with foster-adoption is the exact reason traditional-adoption is the preferred method, if you can afford it. Once she had enough money she completed her adoption and added a new member to her family, this time forever.

            Adding a new member to your family is something that should not be thought lightly of. Children need constant attention and care. Child Protective Services does their best to prepare parents for what they have in store for themselves. However, even the best parents struggle sometimes. Adoption is about new beginnings for both you and the child. National Adoption Month broadens the horizon of family to outside the womb. Wherever you may be in your life right now, the time may come when you want to expand your family. When that day comes, don’t rule out adoption, in fact, think about it first.

Plattsburgh water revitalization program

By Vicky Scott

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Over 50 people arrived at Stafford Middle School on Oct. 28 to give their input on the waterfront revitalization program along the North End, the Cumberland Ave-Wilcox Dock area, the Downtown-Dock Street area and the Old Base area within the City of Plattsburgh.
A brief background was given on the plan and feedback was collected from small group discussions about perceived issues and opportunities in each area.
Paul DeDominicas, the Community Development Director for the City of Plattsburgh, said the best part about the public meetings that have been held has been the different entities that have been represented. At the meeting, locals, students and professors from Plattsburgh State, businesses and museum representatives attended to bring fresh ideas and opinions to the project.
Many people had different things to say about the plan; what they are most passionate about and what they think needs the most focus. Candice Wall, who has lived on Lake Champlain for over 30 years, is enthusiastic about the plans to revitalize the Plattsburgh City Beach; one of the largest fresh water beaches in the country. Currently, the plan intends to renovate existing facilities and make additions to the current bath house and concessions, pavilion, benches and lighting.
Another concern that plays a role in the plan is the preservation of the environment. Gary Trahan, a Plattsburgh native, said, “Habitat restoration is a very important component in this project because of where we are located. We have the opportunity to preserve and enjoy the North Country if we do it the right way.” The plan has incorporated the protection of wetlands, dunes and looks to create wetland boardwalks, nature trails and flood protection.
Outdoors enthusiasts were also represented at the meeting by Adrianna Sheeran, who is an avid kayaker. Scomotion Creek kayak and canoe access was addressed in the last meeting, which peaked Sheeran’s interest. Currently, Sheeran believes there is limited access throughout the area for these activities which inhibits her ability to do what she loves. “Everyones concerns can be heard at these meetings and that is what is drawing such a crowd,” said Sheeran.
Emily Wheeler, a sophomore at Plattsburgh State, also attended the Oct. 29 meeting and was surprised at the turnout. “It’s refreshing to see how many people care about Plattsburgh,” said Wheeler. The goal is for even more people to attend the next meeting, which is scheduled for Dec. 9.

"Anytime you bring folks together, you get a better sense of community," said DeDominicas, “the more people that talk about it, the better.” The Community Development Director has an optimistic attitude toward the plan, as he looks to turn it into action in Jan. 2016.