December 1, 2007

Santa comes to Dryden

Last night, the Village of Dryden lit its Christmas tree, with Santa arriving by fire truck. The Southworth Library, Methodist Church, and Dryden Community Cafe were all open to the large crowd.

Santa descends into the crowd
Santa descends into the crowd.

Santa lands among the crowd
Santa lands among the crowd.

Crowd at the Dryden Community Cafe
Crowd at the Dryden Community Cafe.

The Southworth Library and Dryden Community Cafe both had live music over the course of the evening as well, and both had a lot of visitors passing through.

Beyond Measure talks with the kids
Beyond Measure talks with the kids.

As usual, I've posted a gallery with more photos.

Posted by simon at 8:20 PM Comment

December 3, 2007

Winter weather arrives

Today's news is pretty general to the county and the area. There's a report on the weekend snowstorm. Groton apparently got the most snow, at five inches.

There's also a report on this being the peak season for deer hunting cars, as bucks aren't watching where they're going.

There will also be some defibrillators coming to the State Police barracks on 13.

On the opinion page, Money with a Mission gets a Laurel, as does F&T Distributing.

Posted by simon at 2:45 PM Comment

December 5, 2007

Lake Huron sends us snow

Every now and then I get into a conversation about lake-effect snow, and I usually talk about how Lake Erie sends snow to the Buffalo area while Ontario sends snow to the south and east. Somehow, yesterday, Lake Huron got into the act as well, thanks to high winds. The Journal reports 3.2 inches in Freeville, though Cortland got 8 inches, and Auburn 10.

Cathy Wakeman's Dryden Town Talk looks at a big thank-you planned for Russ Kowalski and his family at Friday night's Dryden basketball game:

The goal of Friday night's tribute, then, will be to show Russ how much the Athletic Department appreciates the endless hours of volunteering he and his family have done over the years.

There will also be an auction for the Dryden Lion Wrestling Program in the Dryden Middle School gym at 6:30pm on Friday, December 14th. Finally, Wakeman provides a very busy list of holiday concerts.

State Senator Jim Seward comes through with $80,000 of state discretionary mad money to help support the county's $20 million emergency communications project.

On the opinion page, Arthur Barry of Dryden writes to object to an earlier writer on immigration, and Dan Karig (of Bethel Grove) writes to ask for people with memories of swimming at Stewart Park to contact him.

Posted by simon at 9:31 AM Comment

December 6, 2007

Lots of elections

Today's Ithaca Journal editorial questions New York State's habit of letting elections fall all over the calendar, with elections in March, May, November, and whenever. It's definitely a strange problem to have to convince people that there's an election going on, and I have to admit I find the idea very appealing. I'm not entirely sure what the mechanics would look like, because of the ways that boundaries don't align neatly, but I suspect that it wouldn't be very hard to figure out a saner way of holding elections.

The Monitor reports a strange-sounding accident at 79 and Brooktondale Road.

There's also a report on the state's new Project Sunlight, which I hope will let citizens break down the intricate webs of connections that make New York State politics such a mess.

Update: I missed this letter from Elizabeth Elser about a naturalization ceremony speaker.

Posted by simon at 8:07 AM Comment

December 7, 2007

Dryden police officer honored for work against DWI

Dryden police officer Kurt Soderholm was honored at the STOP DWI Awards Luncheon for his work fighting DWI at a small police agency:

Soderholm said he made 14 DWI arrests from November 2006 to this November. He believes people who drink and drive tend to think they can get away with it.

"People have to realize it's not right," he said. "On the roadway, you're playing with death."

Trevor French of Etna, coordinator of Recycle Ithaca's Bicycles, leads off an article on the growing project.

On the opinion page, the editorial calling for regional cooperation among airports seems to echo the shift at the Journal itself, which is becoming more regional and less local. A case in point: the big front-page article on energy choices, which comes straight from the Binghamton paper.

In good news that might create new opportunities for sharing local information, Governor Spitzer put forward plans to increase broadband Internet access in rural areas.

Posted by simon at 12:30 PM Comment

Pancakes and Holly

This Sunday, you can start the day with a tasty breakfast, and then visit Dryden homes in the afternoon, all while helping out community organizations.

The Varna Community Association's pancake breakfast will be at the Varna Community Center, 943 Dryden Road, in Varna (map) from 8:00am to noon. We always have pancakes, french toast, bacon, ham, eggs, and potatoes, and lately we've added sausage gravy and biscuits.

The Dryden Town Historical Society will be having its first Holly Tour, with six homes open to the public: 76 East Main Street, 45 West Main Street, 22 Purvis Road, 379 Virgil Road, 19 Union Street, and 1776 Gee Hill Road. Tickets are $5, and available at businesses in the Village of Dryden. (Call Betsy at 844-4289 or Gina at 844-4691 for more information, or visit the Dryden Liquor Store.) Homes will be open from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, with a reception afterward at the Dryden United Methodist Church. (Unfortunately, because of the event being in people's houses, they've asked that no children attend.)

Posted by simon at 12:47 PM Comment

December 8, 2007

Laurel, survey

Joe Lalley sends a Laurel to TCAT:

staff and to Marjorie Hoffman and the students of the Elizabeth Anne Clune Montessori School for a wonderful idea to put art on the buses. This is just brilliant!

In broader county news, Ithaca Forward is seeking people from age 25 to 40 to fill out a survey on why they live here. I filled it out this morning, and thought it was better questions than I'm used to seeing on these kinds of things.

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton is pushing the Department of Environmental Conservation about garbage trucks that go through the county, including on Route 79.

There's also a piece about a possible monorail, though I don't see whether it's really about the county or just the City of Ithaca. I'm not sure the proposers know at this point.

Posted by simon at 1:44 PM Comment

Lawn replacement

Dryden resident - and my wife - Angelika St.Laurent went over to Oneonta on Wednesday night to join a panel discussion on peak oil and climate change. The local paper picked up most strongly on her call for people to turn our many acres of lawn into something more useful:

"Kill your lawn."

That was one of the recommendations from a panel discussion based around peak oil and climate change held Wednesday night at the First United Methodist Church.

Angelika St. Laurent of Cornell University promoted growing more vegetables and fruits locally - including on lawns - as a way to mitigate food-supply problems related to peak oil and climate change...

St. Laurent suggested there are ways to gain back "food independence."

In addition to growing more fruits and vegetables locally, local governments should be encouraged to relax restrictions on the small-scale keeping of livestock.

Zoning codes in suburban and urban areas often restrict the keeping of animals other than pets.

"Chickens in your backyard are great fun," St. Laurent said.

The article gets one thing wrong - Angelika left Cornell at the end of July to focus on developing an orchard in Freeville - but otherwise it's an interesting report on a night's discussion of a difficult subject. Our current way of life is tightly bound to the expectation that energy is cheap, and changing that will require major reconsideration of much of how we live.

On a related note, I'll be presenting a book review of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle at the Corning Public Library on February 6th.

Posted by simon at 2:26 PM Comment

December 10, 2007


People often seem to make their donations at the end of the year, both for holiday and tax reasons. This is a list of organizations in Dryden that could take donations. I believe, though I'm not entirely certain, that these are non-profit organizations, and therefore tax-exempt, but I could be wrong. Check with the organization if you have a question about that.

I've posted a list of churches earlier, and I'm sure they'd all happily accept donations, with the exception of Ellis Hollow Community Church, which has closed.

Other possible Dryden organizations for donations include:

  • Bethel Grove Community Center
    1825 Slaterville Road
    Ithaca, NY 14850

  • Dryden Community Center Cafe
    P.O. 801
    Dryden, NY 13053

  • Dryden Kitchen Cupboard
    Tompkins County Food Pantry
    800 Enfield Falls Road
    Newfield, NY 14867

  • Dryden Town Historical Society
    36 West Main Street
    P.O. Box 69
    Dryden, NY 13053

  • Dryden Veterans Memorial Home
    2272 Dryden Road
    Dryden, NY 13053

  • Dryden Youth Opportunity Fund
    Make checks out to Community Foundation of Tompkins County/DYOF
    P.O Box 1076
    Dryden, NY 13053

  • Ellis Hollow Community Center
    111 Genung Road
    Ithaca, NY 14850

  • Etna Community Center
    P.O. Box 425
    Etna, NY 13062

  • Freeville Food Pantry
    Freeville United Methodist Church
    PO Box 229
    Freeville, NY 13068

  • Neptune Hose Company & Dryden Ambulance
    26 North Street
    Dryden, NY 13053

  • Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts
    P.O. Box 6607
    Ithaca, NY 14850

  • Southworth Library Association
    P.O. Box 45
    Dryden, NY 13053

  • Tompkins County SPCA
    1640 Hanshaw Road
    Ithaca, NY 14850

  • Varna Community Association
    PO Box 4771
    Ithaca, NY 14852-4771

  • Varna Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
    14 Turkey Hill Road
    Ithaca, NY 14850

  • W.B. Strong Fire Company
    21 Union Street
    PO Box 129
    Freeville, NY 13068

  • Willow Glen Cemetery Association
    P.O. Box 299
    Dryden, NY 13053-0299

If you have additions or corrections, please let me know in the comments. I'm guessing I missed a few.

Posted by simon at 8:10 AM Comment

Tree lighting, service awards

This week's Dryden Courier has a picture of Beyond Measure on the front fold, singing at the Dryden Community Cafe during the celebrations around the Christmas tree lighting. Inside the paper, there's a photo of Santa's arrival by fire truck, and another of Santa at the Cafe.

Reporter Matt Cooper also visits the Kiwanis Club as they honored four high school students for their community service. Sebastian Bouchard, Nicole Button, William Edgecomb, and Curtis Greene received honors named after former Dryden teacher and Kiwanis founder Fred Ballard.

The opinion page includes an editorial about protecting watersheds and a list of people honored by the Dryden Youth Opportunity Fund's Honor Tree. The next page continues that list, and then lists Dryden High Honors and Honors students.

In sports, there's mention of the Dryden girls basketball team defeating Marathon, 39-26, with Bridget Bugliari scoring 17 of Dryden's points. Nick Lange, Dylan Luce, Pat Streeter, Trevor Totman, and T.J. Weaver earned places on the Finger Lakes Newspapers 2007 All-Star Boys Soccer Team.

There's also an article on the DYOF Honor Tree, explaining that the lights on the tree are sponsored to help pay for the operational costs of the Fund. The tree, in the Village of Dryden's Time Square, can still accept more lights, and they can be purchased at Dryden Wines, First National Bank of Dryden, Bailey Insurance Agency, 1st National Bank of Dryden, Tompkins Trust Company, and McDonald's.

Matt Cooper's Inside Dryden column lists holiday music, including the Dryden High School/Middle School instrumental and Dryden Voices concert at 7:00pm on Wednesday the 12th, with the high school jazz band and Beyond Measure on the 13th at 7:00pm. On the 18th, the Dryden High School Advanced Band and fourth and fifth grade choruses will perform.

He also notes the Dryden Kiwanis Christmas Tree Sale across from the A-1 Restaurant, and tells a stirring tale of Death Star tree-toppers. Harry Weldon writes about waiting for the mail, and the challenges of mail service in the early days of Upstate New York.

There's also an extended preview of the Holly Tour, which happened on Saturday.

Posted by simon at 8:22 AM Comment

An odd Christmas gift suggestion

While writing that last article on the Dryden Courier, I couldn't help reflecting that they have by far the best coverage of any of the local papers on Dryden.

(Tompkins Weekly is up and coming, but it's covering the whole county, with only a bit of room for Dryden. The Cortland Standard is often good, but doesn't cover as much as the Courier. The Ithaca Journal is simply declining.)

If you (or someone you know) would like to see the Courier regularly, instead of just hearing rumors of it here or hunting for it in gas stations and pharmacies, you can subscribe. The "Subscription Savings Coupon" on the back of this week's paper indicates it's $25 a year in Tompkins County and $30 a year outside. Send a check and your address to: Finger Lakes Community Newspapers, PO Box 6475, Ithaca, NY 14851.

Posted by simon at 8:44 AM Comment

Dryden on the Year of Wonders

It's been a while since I've written about poet John Dryden, who this town is named for, but an alert reader pointed me to this show on Dryden's response to the wild events of the year 1666. (It requires RealPlayer, which you may need to install to hear the show.)

Posted by simon at 8:54 AM Comment

$79,500 for a part-time job

I wish this was a job posting - I know a lot of people would like to have $79,500 for a job that still lets them pursue other potentially lucrative possibilities, or simply relax more.

Unfortunately, though, it's more about a group of people who are already lucky enough to hold such a position but think that $79,500 (plus lulus and benefits) just isn't enough. I mean, there are all the outside opportunities, but it's always nice when base pay goes up, right?

You may have guessed that I'm talking about New York State's perpetually public-minded legislature, which recognizes somehow that the public is so impressed by the work they do that taxpayers can't wait to give them a raise. "Recognizes" may be the wrong word, of course.

The New York Times has an editorial on the sorry mess, concluding with a point that I think is worth emphasizing:

If Mr. Bruno will not reveal what he does in his private dealings, and if lawyers like Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, insist on keeping mum about outside legal work, aren't they thumbing their noses at the public? And if they and other legislators continue to hide their private work and their conflicts of interest, hasn't the time come to start thinking revolutionary thoughts, like having full-time legislators?

True, we would have to pay them more than the $79,500 they make now. But it would be worth it if they really, absolutely, finally joined judges and top state officeholders and rank-and-file state employees whose full-time job as public servants is to serve the public's interest.

The hard question, of course, is whether they would then act like full-time public servants. It would certainly simplify the hard questions around conflicts of interest and disclosure that currently raise eyebrows, especially for the leadership.

Phillip Anderson at the Albany Project would like to see more, and I'd like to see all that too. I suspect, though, that cutting off all of those outside opportunities is sufficiently scary for enough of the legislature that it would make a huge difference in how (political) business is done in New York State.

Not that I expect it to happen, of course!

Posted by simon at 6:06 PM Comment

December 11, 2007

Fire district elections today

Elections for fire commissioner will be held today, affecting Dryden residents in the McLean Fire District. (Voting is at the McLean Fire Station.) All of these races are uncontested.

An article on libraries illustrates the difference made by Southworth Library being chartered, separate from the County Library and its current financial hits. (It's separate from those particular challenges, but being separate brings its own challenges too, I suspect.)

The rest of this morning's Journal is quiet on Dryden, but it does report on why beer prices may be climbing, which makes me wonder again if I should start growing hops. Just to the west of the Dryden line, the Town of Ithaca is discussing the environmental value of Sapsucker Woods.

Posted by simon at 7:43 AM Comment

Local eating under the tree?

I mentioned the Dryden Courier as something to give yesterday, though it's not exactly a classic present you can put in a box under the Christmas tree. Today's idea could actually go under the tree, though it's also something I think would get used all year.

Beth Skwarecki, who lived in Varna until recently, has published The Local Food Pocket Cookbook. It's small, and organized by ingredient, so it's easy to look around a store or farmer's market and decide what you want to do with the delicious-looking food - meats, vegetables and dairy products.

I still have to try the recipes - it just came out - but if it's anything like the work Beth shows on her Sustainable Food Blog, I'm sure it'll be delicious.

Posted by simon at 7:57 AM Comment

December 12, 2007

TC3 seeks dormitory expansion

TC3 is hoping to build two more residence halls, adding 268 beds to its current 546. There are a few obstacles to sort out, mostly notably the moratorium on further development in the Cortland Road Sewer District. I was happy to see these claims of responsible construction:

Ross said the project will be built at the prevailing wage rate with as much local labor as possible, and will be built to achieve a "Silver Standard" according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines.

The first part of that may avoid a repeat of this protest, while the second suggests that the building might have a bright future even as energy prices climb.

They hope to have the $19 million project completed by August 2009.

Dryden resident Bill Cornell writes to support his son's presence at a naturalization ceremony, responding to earlier criticism of the ceremony, particularly Judge Mulvey's remarks.

Posted by simon at 6:05 AM Comment

Giving at Dryden Middle School

Last night's Cortland Standard has an article on holiday donations from Dryden Middle School. Two teachers participated in the "Give One, Get One" program of One Laptop Per Child. Another teacher gave a goat to an African village, and another gave cleaning and laundry supplies to the SPCA. Students, focused on community service this year, have raised funds for Books for Troops, and are supporting children with chronic diseases and cancer. That's just the beginning - the article lists a lot more.

Posted by simon at 6:24 AM Comment

Snowmobile trail maintenance; bottle collection

This week's issue of The Shopper has an ad from the Dryden Caroline Drifters announcing a trail maintenance day on Saturday, December 15th, starting at the Dryden VFW at 9:00am. Trails open on December 19th.

There's also a notice that Dryden Kiwanis will be having a can and bottle collection that same morning from 9:00am to noon at Clark's Food Mart in Dryden.

Posted by simon at 5:44 PM Comment

December 14, 2007

Snow day; SPCA donation

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on yesterday's snow, and has an editorial on safe driving.

An anonymous donor just gave the SPCA a large donation to help cover animal control costs, giving county municipalities a year at the old rates rather than the new higher rates.

Posted by simon at 8:56 AM Comment

Really wants a raise - shouldn't get one

I wrote earlier about the state legislature's hunt for a raise to their mere $79,500 part-time salary. Phillip Anderson has more (with video) on a way out there speech by a (Democratic) State Senator calling for a lot more money.

"Show me the money?" Come on. This is just bonkers.

Posted by simon at 8:38 PM Comment

December 19, 2007

Preserving Six Mile Creek

Between some travel and connectivity problems, I'm a little behind. To catch up...

Yesterday's paper reports that the Finger Lake Land Trust will be establishing a 138-acre nature preserve near the headwaters of Six Mile Creek. Looking at the map, it's near Hammond Hill State Forest and uphill from the "Old 600" tract in Caroline.

This morning's Journal reports that County Legislature Chair Tim Joseph is retiring and talks to Dryden legislator Martha Robertson about whether or not she's interested in the position. Former Dryden legislator Mike Lane suggested to the Legislature that they consider rotating the position more frequently:

I do think part of that flexibility is ... different people serving on different committees on a regular basis. People weren't locked into chairmanships. They weren't locked into various positions on picking the committees for long periods of time -- two or three years was the longest time. I think that same flexibility should also be part of the structure of the board chair's position. I really think that this Legislature should think about amending the charter to limit the terms of a board chair to three successive terms. I think new ideas, new directions, working with others, shifting the responsibility makes a lot of sense.

It looks like we'll be switching to time-of-day electric meters over the next few years. I have to wonder what happens to all the old meters.

The weekend's snow proved pretty light.

On the opinion page, Tim Fahey of Dryden warns that lags in climate change may make it harder to take action before it's too late.

Posted by simon at 11:29 AM Comment

December 20, 2007

Stone Circle celebrates St. Lucia

This morning's Journal has a picture of students from Stone Circle School singing "Santa Lucia" at Loaves & Fishes to welcome the holiday season.

Briefly in Tompkins notes the ongoing Dryden dog enumeration, as well as the Freeville Food Pantry's being closed on Christmas Eve.

Posted by simon at 6:01 AM Comment

December 21, 2007

Village of Dryden has police union agreement

The Cortland Standard reports that Village of Dryden and its police union agreed on a three-year contract.

Posted by simon at 12:55 AM Comment

Jerry Dell Farm protected

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that a second Dryden farm, the Jerry Dell farm, will be having 419 acres protected. I didn't know that it is:

the largest certified organic farm in the Northeast with 700 cows and some 1,200 acres in two counties.

Posted by simon at 5:11 PM Comment

December 22, 2007

Freeville Elementary erroneously listed as underperforming

Last night's Cortland Standard reports that Freeville Elementary is on the state's list of underperforming schools, though the school only covers Kindergarten through second grade and testing starts at third grade.

They also report on the grant to protect the Jerry Dell Farm from development.

Posted by simon at 5:52 AM Comment

West Dryden boy fights cancer, with help

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on Robbie Busby's battle against Burkitt's lymphoma, and the community support his family has found to help with the fight.

As usual, the complicated and largely useless Voice Your Choice electricity supply program hasn't exactly fired up customers' interest. 80% haven't yet "voiced their choice". The deadline is December 28th.

On the opinion page, Russ Kowalski of Dryden sends Laurels to everyone who came out to support him on December 14th, while E. W. Seymour of Freeville supports the Bush administration's claims that it was open with Congressional leaders about using torture.

Posted by simon at 6:06 AM Comment

December 26, 2007

Quiet holiday

The Ithaca Journal and Cortland Standard both seem pretty quiet this holiday.

On yesterday's opinion page, Murray Cohen of Dryden asks about President Bush's late interest in the Israel-Palestine peace process. Today, Maureen Brull of Dryden encourages readers to spread peace this holiday season.

Posted by simon at 10:37 AM Comment

A calm view of increasing energy prices

I've written a lot here about my expectation that energy prices have nowhere to go but up, though talking about even $5 gasoline seems to be difficult for a lot of people's imagination. (My guesses for twenty years from now range from $10 to $20 in today's dollars.)

Economist Gregory Clark wrote a piece on the end of oil recently that I recommend, though it seems far too calm to me. First, Clark seems willing to accept that the age of petroleum is coming to an end. Second, he's very calm - which is interesting given that he's describing a world in which we see "energy five times as expensive as at present".

Just as a thought experiment, think about what increasing your energy costs - gas, electric, natural gas, propane, etc. - by a factor of five would be like. Remember that food costs are largely based on energy as well, and would climb by a similar factor. What would it mean for you? And what would it mean for Dryden?

(I probably should have asked this after the holidays, but it seems good to ask about it as people are making their New Year's resolutions.)

For more comments, see here, where I originally found this.

Posted by simon at 10:56 AM Comment

December 28, 2007

Creekwood Apartments suffer Christmas fire

Apparently Dryden did not have a quiet Christmas - it just took the Ithaca Journal a few days to catch up to news of a fire early Christmas morning. Four residents of Creekwood Apartments, on Lower Creek Road, were displaced by a fire that damaged four units. One unit, where the fire started, was severely damaged, while the others suffered less severe damage when the fire moved through a shared attic. Three of the residents found empty apartments elsewhere in the complex for now. The Etna, Freeville, Varna, Lansing, Harford, McLean, Dryden and Cayuga Heights fire departments responded to the fire, and shuttled water from the 13/366 intersection to the apartments.

The Journal also reports on County Legislators' attendance records. Duane "Tyke" Randall, who represents Groton, part of Lansing, and the northeast corner of Dryden, missed the most meetings, six legislative meetings plus some committee meetings.

Today is the last day for the electricity Voice Your Choice program.

Posted by simon at 6:13 AM Comment

December 29, 2007

Popular news

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on its most popular stories of 2007, based on website traffic, and has an accompanying reflection on what made a hit. Darkness is clearly a key ingredient, and some of Dryden's darker 2007 moments are in there. (I was also happy to see "Dems sweep supervisor races" at 34.)

There's also some reflection on their Story Chat feature. I participate in it sometimes - as simonstl - but generally I just shake my head when I read the comments. Somehow it quickly became a haven for people on the far far right, though it's slowly broadening to include a wider range of perspectives. Usually I worry that political conversations in Tompkins County tilt too far left to explain to the outside world, but on Story Chat the tilt is definitely the other direction.

The Monitor has a very strange Dryden assault story that I don't really understand.

Posted by simon at 6:20 AM Comment