Sunday, February 26, 2012

Big 50 Birthday Bash at Skiffs

Gary "Critter" Williams turned the big 5-0 today.  All of his friends gathered at Skiffs today to help celebrate this milestone in Critters life.  Special thanks to Joel Hollis for leading the Happy Birthday Song and to Ron Thomson for putting a special Birthday wish on his marquee!  Happy Birthday Critter!

Water Bill

There are 2 things wrong with my water bill.  Can you spot them?  Click here to leave your guess on my facebook page.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Snow Removal

My wife and I went for a walk in the snow today.  While walking around the village we lost count after we saw 4 different village plows.  I guess kids are not the only ones that get excited and want to play in the snow.  The video below shows the damage that was done to our lawn when a village plow drifted off the road by about 4 feet.  On the way back, the driver voluntarily stopped and apologized.  He went on to say that when the weather breaks he will make sure to come back and repair the sod that was torn up.  Nice guy, very polite and sincere.

A Conflict Of Interest?

At the Town of Alexandria Board meeting on 2.8.12 Supervisor Hunneyman had included Ambit Energy as item 3 on the agenda. Mr. Hunneyman wanted the board to choose Ambit as it's electric supplier.  He stated that he was told  the town could save $600 per month if the town converted to Ambit.  He also went on to say that Sharon Cullen had converted the Village of Alexandria Bay to Ambit.  As it turned out, Mrs. Cullen also approached Mr. Hunneyman with the potential savings for the town.  I asked Mr. Hunneyman if he had requested other bids as municipalities are required to do for fuel oil, kerosene, and gasoline.  He said he had not, and as a result of my question  the alternate electric supplier  discussion was tabled till the next meeting.

The Town of Alexandria had changed electric suppliers several years ago to US Gas and Electric.

For Your Information:
Ambit is one of the many electrical suppliers that appeared when NY joined other states and deregulated electricity in the late 1990's.  To learn more about how to choose electrical suppliers go to the NYS Public Service Commission website and click on the Power To Choose-Energy Competition link

Aside from the lack of bids, I was also concerned about the conversion of the Villages electric supplier to Ambit.  This was the first I had heard of it.  There had been no discussion at the village board meetings  of changing electrical suppliers for the village.  The Village is also required to seek out bids for the boards approval.  Upon further investigation I discovered that the village did in fact change electric suppliers to Ambit in January '12. No bids were obtained and the board of trustees were unaware of the change. In December '11, newly "sworn in" Mayor Jury was advised by then Clerk Treasurer S. Cullen, that changing to Ambit would save the Village approximately $1,600 annually. Ms. Jury was also advised by the Clerk Treasurer that it is her job to cut costs and find savings. Mayor Jury in good faith, but erroneously,  gave the Clerk Treasurer the go-ahead without board approval to change the villages electric supplier to Ambit.

At the 2.14.12 Village board meeting, Dean Erck, during public concerns brought up the topics of "ethics" and "conflict of interests" to Attorney M. Gebo followed by a discussion of the village changing electric suppliers.  Julie Strough also offered some input to the discussion.  Below is an audio clip from the Town Of Alexandria meeting 2.8.12 followed by a clip from the 2.14.12 Village meeting.

For more Information about The History of Electricity Deregulation in NY

Bloggers Note:
When it is all said and done and if the switch to an alternate energy supplier is made, will there be any noticeable long term savings on the electric bills?  The Town is already using renewable energy with solar panels.  Maybe the village will follow suit?  In the mean time, wouldn't it be more effective and efficient to replace burnt out bulbs with CFL's, turning those off when not in use. Implement programmable thermostats, timers on lights, and of course dropping the temperature a few degrees,  All of this might yield a far larger savings.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Is Bickering A Sign of the "Times"

Ousted for refusing to sign a blank check?  I hardly think so!  I am sure this board has learned from the fiasco's of previous boards that it is best to follow New York Conference of Mayors guidelines for the removal of a village employee. NYCOM is a source and support for the operation of city and village government which is recognized state wide.  Nobody has been fired under Mayor Jury's brief tenure.  Mrs. Cullen [a political appointee by the mayor] was simply not reappointed because of personnel issues discussed during an executive session of an emergency meeting held on 2/9/12.   Details of any personnel issues are by law to remain confidential. There is never any guarantee that a person will be reappointed to any of these political positions. Going to the news media with her side of the story puts the village board at a disadvantage.  Because of confidentiality the board cannot respond to or refute any specific details regarding the article that appeared in  the Sunday edition of the WDT.  An article that is not worthy of any response because of its undertones of bickering and whining.  In essence, there is no right or wrong side to this unanimous board decision, and there is no opportunity for any litigation.  This board followed the proper protocol as outlined in the NYCOM Handbook for Village Officials.  Which is more than can be said for the previous boards.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Local Women's Hockey

Town of Alexandria Ice arena hosted the second annual Thousand Islands Throw-Down Show-Down Women's Hockey Tournament.  Ladies from all over the north country are competing today and tomorrow at the town municipal rink located in Alex bay.

Friendships Require "Energy" Too


Several years ago a friend called me, saying "Jim, someone turned me onto this opportunity and I thought enough of our friendship to share it with you".  I was flattered, so I said "tell me more".  My friend went on to say that "this is an opportunity that just may set you free financially". By now I am drooling at the thought of basking in the glory of financial freedom but I was also a bit suspicious.

I was given some basic information and my friend told me to research it and he would call me back in a couple of days.  He went on to say, "I will be interested to hear what you think".  He and everyone else knows that I have opinions and they are usually on one side of the fence and seldom in the middle.  Most also know, that I never beat around the bush.

Several days later, my phone rang and it was of course my friend.  He said, "so what did ya find" was followed by "what do you think", both questions rolled out of his mouth with confidence and glee. In my mind I quickly reviewed what I had discovered in my research including the advice from friends and relatives.  I decided to sit on the fence and told my friend "at this time I am not interested".  My friend pressed me by asking "why".  Fatal Error flashed in front of my eyes, "damn it, he wants a reason".  I was hoping he would just accept my not interested reply and say ok see you later.  I started to stammer and said, "we have a lot going on around the house and we are not interested".  He asked "why" again, and then it occurred to me that my friend was a salesman and this was a cold call.  This realization made it easier for me and so I let it all out and by the time I had finished my friend the salesman was not happy with my blunt honesty.  The conversation ended with a no sale for salesman and probably the end of a friendship.

Several weeks went by and I had casual conversations about similar cold calls with friends.  I shared with my friends that I had gotten involved in a similar venture many years ago and was left with no financial freedom, but those above me gained theirs without concern for me.  I had also shared this with my ex-friend the salesman.  I had a chance meeting with the salesman a couple of days later.  He was aggressive, warning me to "stop bad mouthing his efforts".  I said "are you kidding me, are you telling me that I can't answer someones question when they ask my opinion"?  Without waiting for his reply, I added "it's not like I am blogging about it".  Then the salesman became very angry and said "Jim if you blog about it, we have lawyers that take care of people like you that spread rumors or lies about our company".  "Bullshit" came to my mind and I decided not to tempt fate, so  I walked away. Not blogging about it till now.

I am not tempting fate, nor am I afraid of the lawyers.  The salesman and his venture for financial freedom remain anonymous.  No mention of the "P" word or any detail of my opinions.  Mostly, this was a story about how friendships can be ruined because of the hope for financial gain.  I will accept half the responsibility for that, the salesman is going to have to take ownership for his share.

Bloggers Note:
This is not a story looking for sympathy or even ridicule.  I am simply airing my thoughts now, so that I can cover future posts objectively.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Proud to be a Blogger

I am like a mosquito.  Been swatted a few times.  Left for dead!  However, I am still alive and annoying!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Village Settles On Salt Contamination Law Suit

Alexandria Bay:

In 2004, Mr. Burns who owns property on Carnegie Bay Rd. filed a law suit against the village for salt contamination.  According to village attorney M. Gebo, there had been a number of suits filed from other residents from that same road in 2004.  Mr Burns was the only one that pursued it to the point of court action.  All the others failed to follow up within the one year limitation.  According to attorney Gebo, Mr Burns original law suit was for a lot of money..... but after 8 years Burns settled for $30,000.  The money will be taken from the General Fund.  Listen to the audio clip for a detailed discussion from the 2.14.12 VB meeting.

Faster than a newspaper....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Change in Recycling Schedule

Alexandria Bay

Because of unforeseen complications, recycling will be every Wednesday [starting immediately].  The Village Board has also asked me to remind property owners that you are responsible for keeping your sidewalks clear of snow and ice. This has been a public service announcement from your friendly blogger.

Faster notification than the newspapers or channel 2

Monday, February 13, 2012

Macsherry Library Displays Local Artists

According to the Macsherry Library web site, The show was a big hit! Sweet treats! Amazing Artwork!  The chocolate goodies are all gone, but the art work will remain on display through February 18th.  The video below is from the Heart of Winter event that was held this past Saturday.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chocolate Reception and Pond Hockey

Not only is there the first annual Labatt's 1000 Island Pond Hockey Tournament in Alexandria Bay. But today the Macsherry Library hosts the Heart Of Winter.  If you get chilled to the bone, or maybe you have some time to kill in between games, why not warm up by attending this sweet event.

Art Show & Chocolate Reception
Saturday, February 11th 
1pm till 5pm
Art Work and Poetry
Chocolate Delights Galore
Card Making Table
Hat Raffle
Free and Open to the Public
Macsherry Library
112 Walton St. Alex Bay  482-2241
Located behind the Alexandria Central School

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Long Time Clerk Treasurer Not Reappointed

Village Corrective Action Plan
Alexandria Bay:

Mayor Jury called me today to brief me on some recent changes that have taken place in the village offices. All the members of the village board were present at an emergency meeting that was held today.  Long time Clerk Treasurer Sharon Cullen was not reappointed.  Judy Cornick was appointed in her place.  Ms. Cornick has many years of municipal accounting experience.  Molly Briere was reappointed as Deputy Clerk

Village officials started preparing a corrective action plan to the NYS Comptrollers audit in December 2011  The priority was to segregate the duties of the Deputy clerk and the clerk treasurer positions.  The change in duties could not be made until a public hearing could be arranged.  As a result, appointments to the two positions could not be made until after the hearing. The earliest possible date was Jan 10.  The hearing was held on that date and the segregation of duties was passed with no objections from the public.

I questioned Mayor Jury as to why Cullen was not reappointed.  Mayor Jury would not elaborate , stating that this was a personnel issue and could not be discussed.  She did say that certain events had occurred within the village office that prompted the emergency meeting that was held this afternoon.

Bloggers Note:

I have recently covered the auditors findings which you can  read by clicking the following links:

Audit of the Clerk Treasurer Records and Reports

We Got The Money

Smoking Gun

Based on everything that I have read in the Audit reports, it is not to difficult to understand what has led up to this change in the village office. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

1000 Islands "River Hockey Classic" Tournament

The Clayton Marina, Clayton NY

River Hockey Classic is a Pond Hockey style event.  Clayton has lucked out with the perfect location and of course the cooperation of Mother Nature.  The tournament started at 8am this morning and will continue into the evening under the lights. A Chicken Dinner Barbeque is also available. More games are scheduled on Sunday.  Next weekend, Alexandria Bay will hold the first annual Labatt's 1000 Island Pond Hockey Tournament, February 10th - 12th.  Weather and ice conditions permitting.

Video from today's tournament.

Hearts For Youth Chili Cook Off 2012

Alexandria Central Hearts For Youth group

Of course everyone  knows about the Chili Cook Off at the Watertown Dulles State Office Building.  HFY is competing again this year.  The preparation and cooking is done, and the right amount of heat has been added to their Chili recipe.  The video below shows all the hard work that the HFY put into competing against all the chili cooks.

Hearts For Youth  (HFY) is a grassroots organization dedicated to providing opportunities, services, and support, so the youth in the Alexandria Central School community will become healthy, educated, respectful, and productive citizens.