March 3, 2008

Community Center Cafe coming to life

The Dryden Community Center Cafe is well on the way to becoming real. They had a "soft opening" last Friday, "leaping" into action. We were there at an off-time, stopping in at 6:00pm when the music started at 7:00pm, but it was amazing to see the place operating, with some very enthusiastic customers.

Signs outside
Signs outside the Dryden Community Center Cafe.

Inside the cafe
Inside the Dryden Community Center Cafe.

I've also posted a gallery of photos that give you some idea of what they've accomplished in there. It's a pretty amazing change from this, and hopefully it'll be busy.

Posted by simon at 6:08 PM Comment

Voter registration update

I wondered if the presidential primary would have brought out a lot of new registrants in the Town of Dryden, but as it turns out, things here look fairly stable, following the same trend of a few additional Democrats, a few fewer Republicans.

PartyNumber (Aug 2007)Number (Feb 2008)Change
Blank (Independent)16841663-21
Working Families3234+2

I'll check again closer to November's election. (I'm also not sure when they purge the rolls of people who haven't voted in a long time, and what effect that might have.)

Posted by simon at 6:33 PM Comment

March 4, 2008

Getting diapers ready

I warned some friends today that there's likely to be a lot less "hard news" on this site for a while, because we're preparing for one of life's great disruptions: our first child. Angelika's expecting our baby around March 30th, and we're busy finishing house renovations so that the baby will have a room and we can actually walk through the house.

Right now, Angelika's pre-washing a lot of diapers to have them ready for when the baby arrives.

Drying diapers
Drying diapers.

The diapers are from Jillian's Drawers down on Cayuga Street in Ithaca. Some are plain cloth, and some are fancier, with snaps that make them easier to attach. Eventually we'll also be using some pocket diapers, which look extra-easy to get on and off.

There'll be a lot more news - soon!

Posted by simon at 6:38 PM Comment

March 5, 2008

Messy weather

March seems to have come in as an indecisive lion, one who can't decide if it prefers rain or snow. We've had an interesting few days of precipitation, and the Journal has a photo of it from the Express Mart in Dryden.

The County Legislature also had some suggestions for the state budget.

Posted by simon at 8:35 AM Comment

March 8, 2008

Priest covering multiple churches

Watch out for today's weather - it's not going to be easy to get around. Road salt shortages continue to be a problem in the area, though the article doesn't mention Dryden.

This morning's Ithaca Journal looks at the challenges faced by local Catholic churches in the face of a shortage of priests. A photo of Father Scott Kubinski notes that he "covers three churches, All Saints in Lansing, St. Anthony Parish in Groton and Holy Cross Parish in Dryden." Another article talks with Father Kubinski about the specific challenges he faces and looks at other area churches.

The Journal also has How They Voted in the County Legislature and the SUNY Cortland Dean's List.

Dryden resident, and President of the City Federation of Women's Organizations, Jeanette Knapp writes about Women's History Month and her own organization's roots.

Posted by simon at 9:22 AM Comment

March 10, 2008

Fundraiser successful

The fundraiser for Dryden High School student Grasen Alexander raised around $7000, including "a sold-out bake sale, a sold-out barbecue and a silent auction that yielded around $2,000." It's good to hear back on the success of these events.

There's also a report on the electrical outages that hit the area, including Dryden.

Posted by simon at 9:40 PM Comment

Please resign, Governor Spitzer

It seems clear that Eliot Spitzer's career has come to a sudden crash.

I've been concerned with Spitzer's performance on the reform issues he'd championed, as anyone following my posts at The Albany Project might have seen, but I still had some hope that he could turn things around, listen more to the voters who put him in office, and help New York State recover from the mire its political system has become.

Unfortunately, it's hard to lead the charge on reform when you've been caught indulging in something you've prosecuted other people for. I've heard from a fair number of Democrats who don't think it's a major crime, a reason to resign (see an example here), but I don't think Spitzer can be effective any longer, and I can't continue to support him.

Spitzer did a lot of good for New York State and the country as Attorney General. Unfortunately, his run as Governor hasn't worked out. New York State has a lot of problems to work out, and this is not going to help.

Posted by simon at 9:44 PM Comment

March 11, 2008

Trust, power, trainwreck

I had felt optimistic about New York State politics Sunday night. I'd been feeling down about the state's leadership for a while, including the Governor I'd heartily supported. Citizens, though, seemed to be awakening, as "Yes, we can" was coming up in ways that went well beyond the Obama campaign.

I'm not sure how interested they're going to be any longer, however, at least in New York State politics. Governor Spitzer's collapse is a disaster for him for his family, for Democrats, and for the state.

I supported Spitzer in 2006, hoping that he would take the strength he'd shown as Attorney General and change a derelict political system that few people trust. I knew he was a handful, doing great things in the cause of making Eliot Spitzer seem great, but that had worked pretty well before. He'd accomplished a lot of impossible-seeming tasks.

The cause of reform didn't fit that well with Spitzer, though. I was on his side for a lot of things, notably the comptroller's appointment and his initial calls for campaign finance reform, but looking back it seems that we had more common opponents than common ideals. He should resign.

I supported Spitzer because I thought he could challenge the legislature's power of incumbency with his own strength (and the landslide victory helped), but in the end I was wrong to think that sending the power-hungry against the power-hungry was going to solve the problems in Albany - problems that center on trust, or the lack of it.

The disaster here is worse than problems for the Governor or the Democrats. The disaster here is that this is going to make it very difficult for voters to trust again, and perhaps especially to trust people who promise to restore some desperately-needed trust to Albany.

Those of us who want to put trust at the top of the agenda have a lot more work to do now.

Update: And it would help for Spitzer to resign soon, preferably immediately.

Posted by simon at 9:45 AM Comment

March 13, 2008

BBQ, Food Drive in Freeville this weekend

I'm still recovering from my trip to Texas, and was happy to hear to from the Freeville United Methodist Church folks with a ready-made story about this coming weekend:

Freeville United Methodist Church is selling their world famous - well almost (people come all the way from Watkins Glen and buy many halves it's so good) chicken bbq this weekend. If you come late you will probably miss out...

At the same time the Freeville Food Pantry is holding a non perishable food drive. With the rising price of gasoline (and many other items) it is becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Our food pantry is experiencing an increase in the number of families we serve and predict that this will continue. So to help meet this need there is a food drive this Saturday morning. If you have the opportunity and could bring a donation of food or money to the church you can rest assured that it will be put to good use. Our next food distribution is on March 24.

Their barbecue is great, and I strongly encourage everyone to support the Freeville Food Pantry and the Dryden Kitchen Cupboard.

Posted by simon at 8:55 AM Comment

Spitzer resigns; 25 to life for Manos

Governor Spitzer announced his resignation; Lieutenant Governor David Paterson will be sworn in as Governor on Monday at noon. The Journal looks at the likely minimal local impact, and lets State Senator Jim Seward kick around the Upstate-Downstate theme that Senate Republicans keep pretending they champion.

Marie Manos received a 25 years-to-life sentence for 2nd degree murder in the May 15th drowning death of her niece at her Ringwood Road apartment.

In brighter news, Cathy Wakeman's Dryden Town Talk (which I think was delayed a day because of the scandals) looks at Margaret Brownell Lorenzen's biography of her husband, and then visits Southworth Library. Senator Seward, of course, sort of earmarked them $2500 to make sure he's known personally for his support, and they're also working on a $15,600 matching grant opportunity. Wakeman also reports on Saturday night's Boy Scout Troop 24 lasagna dinner at the Dryden Veterans Memorial Home at 5:00pm and 6:30pm, and the high school drama club's "On the Town," which will run tonight through Saturday at 7:00pm.

She also reminds voters of the Village of Dryden elections, which will be held Tuesday, March 18th, from noon to 9:00pm.

Posted by simon at 7:07 PM Comment

March 17, 2008


In case anyone's wondering where I've been, I'm sick and in bed. Friday was a mad rush. Saturday was flooring - I almost finished the room. Sunday was a very shivery Quaker Meeting and the rest of the day in bed. Today's been bed and work (in bed) and some new chicks arriving (not in my bed).

More tomorrow, promise!

Posted by simon at 7:31 PM Comment

March 18, 2008

Village elections today noon to nine

The polls are open at the Dryden Village Hall, 16 South Street, Dryden (map) from noon to 9:00pm today. Registered voters who live in the Village have a choice of four trustee candidates for two seats. The Ithaca Journal spoke with all four candidates yesterday.

I'll be writing a more formal endorsement later today, assuming I stop coughing, but it's very easy for me to recommend Fred Gentz and Mary Ellen Bossack. They recognize the challenges the Village faces and the need to do something about them soon. Both have strong records of community service - Fred at the VFW and Dryden Ambulance, and Mary Ellen as an educator and teacher's union president.

I think there's also an election in Freeville today - there should be - at the Freeville Village Hall on Factory Street. I haven't seen it in the paper, though, and I called yesterday after they'd closed for the day. I'll post an update if I find anything out.

Posted by simon at 8:28 AM Comment

Bossack and Gentz for Village of Dryden Trustee

Mary Ellen Bossack and Fred Gentz

At the Democratic caucus in January, I was delighted to see Village residents nominate a team of candidates with amazing strengths - and a delightful dose of modesty as well.

Mary Ellen Bossack is running for her fourth term as Village Trustee, having served six years as the only Democrat on the Village Board. She's also a counselor at the Dryden schools and president of the Dryden Teachers Association.

Fred Gentz works at Security Mutual Insurance, and is also the Post Commander of the Dryden VFW and an Honor Member of Neptune Hose Company. He's also Vice President of the Mental Health Association.

It's been a pleasure to work with them, not just in terms of running a campaign but also in their deep interest in the Village. It's extremely clear that both of them have deep connections to their neighborhoods and their community, and that they'd like to hear from as many people as possible when determining how the Village should proceed. They're both extremely interested in finding options for the sewer plant that can save the Village money, and I believe they could help move that perpetually-delayed project forward.

If you are a registered voter in the Village of Dryden, I strongly encourage you to stop by Village Hall between noon and 9:00pm today to cast your ballot for Bossack and Gentz. (Alas, I don't live in the Village, so I can't.)

Posted by simon at 11:57 AM Comment

Early Village of Dryden results look... Republican

I'd been feeling a lot more optimistic about this race than the results suggest I should have been:

Charlie Becker (R)157
Don Norman (R)139
Mary Ellen Bossack (D)137
Fred Gentz (D)126

I'd like to stay hopeful, but the Democratic candidates needed about a twelve-vote positive margin tonight to have a clear chance of winning after absentee ballots were counted.

I'd thought from the beginning that we had great candidates, but apparently that isn't always enough. They ran an excellent positive campaign, and it's been a pleasure working with them.

For the first time in a lot of years, the Republicans appear to have complete control of the Village of Dryden Board - I guess we'll see what they do with it.

Posted by simon at 9:48 PM Comment

March 19, 2008

Grand Opening in Dryden, March 28th

The Dryden Community Center Cafe is reaching reality. It's been open the past few weeks, and had a soft opening on leap day last month, but they're now ready for the big official "we're here!" moment, with food, drink, music, and even the opportunity to help people:

Dryden Community Center Cafe Grand Opening to Benefit Local Food Pantries

(DRYDEN) - The public is invited to bring a non-perishable food item to Dryden Community Center Cafe's Grand Opening on Friday, March 28 to benefit three local food pantries: Dryden Kitchen Cupboard, Freeville Food Pantry and McLean Community Church.

"We feel having the local food pantries benefit from our Grand Opening is a perfect way to celebrate the sense of community the cafe represents, while helping out a most worthy cause," said Monica Knight, cafe vice president. "This is just one of many ways in which we intend to contribute to the community."

Grand Opening festivities will begin at noon with a symbolic ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Dryden village and town officials, followed by a variety of kids' events from 4 to 6 p.m., including a coloring contest, face painting and sports team sign ups; after school teen music from 3 to 5 p.m., and the Ithaca New Orleans Dixieland Band from 7 to 9 p.m. Throughout the day there will be hourly coupon giveaways for free food items. Food and beverages specials will include free coffee samples, $1 ice cream cones and "lottery cupcakes" (buy a cup cake and if yours has a cream filling, you win a free combo meal).

Dryden Community Center Cafe represents a significant step toward what organizers, members and donors hope will contribute to a reawakening of Dryden Village's Main Street, by creating a place for people to sit back, relax and enjoy good food and drink, local musicians on the stage, local artists on the walls and an eclectic calendar of community member- organized events. The goal has been to create a casual, comfortable and friendly atmosphere. This gathering place for the community will also provide free WiFi access in a computer-friendly environment.

Dryden Community Center Cafe is located at 1 West Main Street, in Dryden Village. The cafe menu offers specialty coffees, roasted locally by Coffee Mania, paninis, salads, soups, ice cream and freshly made in-house treats. Cafe hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I definitely encourage everyone who can make it to be there - it'll be a lot of fun!

Posted by simon at 5:05 PM Comment


No, not the marshmallow kind. The kind that actually peeps and cheeps, kind of like last year.

Chicks in the brooder box
Chicks in the brooder box.

There's much more on this year's arrivals at An Hour a Day in the Garden.

Posted by simon at 7:12 PM Comment

March 20, 2008

Town of Dryden awarded $430K grant for Internet expansion

Update: The more I've learned about this grant, the more it seems clear that it's a grant to Clarity Connect for expanding service in the Town of Dryden, not a grant to the Town exactly.

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on the award of $430,369 to the Town of Dryden for wireless internet access. (You can also see the Governor's press release.)

David Makar had been pushing hard to expand broadband coverage since his 2006 campaign for Town Board. Jason Leifer, appointed to the board in January, helped write the grant, along with ClarityConnect and town staff.

I'm delighted to see that this went through. I knew of the application, but the total amount available from New York State seemed tiny, so I wasn't that optimistic about it. It makes me glad for all the time I put in to support David and Jason and the other Democrats on the Town Board. An active Town Board was able to leap on this and win a grant that should help the Town tremendously.

At the same time, there's a peculiar statement from County Legislator Mike Hattery near the end of the article that makes me very glad that Hattery is no longer on the Town Board, though depressed that he's on the County Board:

Tompkins County legislator Mike Hattery, R-Dryden, said he's happy that residents in his town will get Internet, but hopes the grants won't hurt the spirit of capitalist competition.

"I think improving Internet access for rural residents is good," he said. "I just hope it's a level playing field for all Internet providers."

That might make sense if, say, Hattery had spent the last few years trying to convince Time-Warner Cable, Verizon, and Frontier that they should be supporting level playing fields for all providers over their infrastructure. I don't recall hearing him ever asking for such a thing, even when Time-Warner came in to talk about their (largely uneditable, but definitely not market-friendly) franchise agreement. He certainly wasn't talking about the need for these providers to expand their coverage, either.

I'm guessing that he needed to come up with some kind of response to cast doubt on a project he wasn't a part of, and this was the best he could come up with. At least the next line is better connected to reality:

Hattery said that Dryden businesses that were without high-speed Internet can now be more competitive.

I suspect it'll take a while for the new system to be operational, but I'll post updates here as I find out more.

There's also an update on village elections, which notes a write-in campaign by Brian Buttner for Mayor. 91 people voted, a drastic increase over past years. Incumbent Mayor Lotte Carpenter defeated Buttner 53-35, and incumbent trustees Penny Beebe and Diana Radford won unopposed.

Tompkins County also grew a bit over the last year, to an estimated 101,055 residents.

Posted by simon at 12:24 PM Comment

March 22, 2008

Disappearing emails

While the White House has been making headlines lately for losing email, this morning's Ithaca Journal takes a look at the problems of email and government closer to home. I'm happy to see that our Supervisor and Town Clerk are now using email accounts specific to their positions at the Town, but there's a long way to go:

Providing all school board members with district e-mails will give constituents in some communities an additional option to directly contact their elected board members. In Dryden Central School District and Newfield Central School District, constituents will not be given the e-mails of their board members because the members use their private e-mails, clerks for both districts said. Providing board members with public e-mails would allow the e-mail addresses for board members to be provided to the community....

In the Towns of Dryden and Caroline, elected officials do not have publicly maintained and backed e-mail accounts, but their town boards have had discussions about how they can back up and maintain their e-mail correspondence....

"I think it would be a good idea," said David Makar, deputy supervisor for the Town of Dryden and the owner of a Web site design company. Makar also does computer consulting.

"It hasn't come up yet so we haven't had to deal with it," he said. "But as e-mail becomes not just a way to send out announcements or schedule meetings, but also a way to communicate with residents, I think it's important to be able to keep track of that."

Makar estimates that a small town could achieve off-site e-mail maintenance for 15 e-mail addresses for roughly $300 annually, plus a service fee for each time records needed to be retrieved. To achieve on-site publicly maintained records, a town could spend about $3,200 upfront for equipment and training and then about $1,300 annually for maintenance.

Whether or not it is worth it for a town to make the transition to public e-mails system depends on its size, Makar said. For some towns and villages, e-mail management is not a concern because their officials do not use e-mail to communicate about municipal business.

This reminds me, of course, that I need to set up backup for my own email. There's also an editorial on the need for improvement.

Posted by simon at 11:50 AM Comment

March 24, 2008

Farewell, old ride

This morning was sad. I drove my 1996 Saturn SL2, which flunked inspection back in December, to Varna Auto Service for junking. I'd bought it new, with ten miles on it, in May 1996. It had done well, climbing a four-wheel-drive road I should never have attempted (it was night, and I was late to a wedding) when it had only 10,000 miles on it, and generally providing reliable service for a very long time - leaving me stuck in the middle of the woods only once.

Saturn's last looks
Saturn's last looks


Its replacement is not (yet) my ideal vehicle, but a used silver Toyota Matrix I hope will last as long a time as the Saturn did.

Update: Sometimes life is like a movie. While driving back from the hospital after Sungiva's birth, I saw my old car being towed away down Route 13, its light blue "Peace is Possible" bumpersticker still plainly visible. I'm not sure where it was going, but it was a sad moment right in the middle of an extremely happy day. Transitions overlapping, somehow.

Posted by simon at 5:51 PM Comment

March 25, 2008

TC3 takes on climate commitment

This morning's Journal reports that TC3 will be signing on to the the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment:

Under the agreement, TC3's requirements include completing an emissions inventory within one year and annually thereafter; within two years, developing an action plan to achieve climate neutrality; and taking immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing from a list of short-term actions. Some include informal steps already taken, such as ensuring all new construction meets certain energy conservation standards. Many of the requirements will mean initial costs will be recovered.

A fire killed a Harford man, and a Corning man was arrested in Dryden for DWI.

On the opinion page, I'm not sure what Murray Cohen of Dryden is up to in challenging Hillary Clinton's dress style.

Update: I missed a Briefly in Tompkins item on an event at the William George Agency chapel in Freeville. The Finger Lakes Church of Christ will be hosting its "O For a Thousand Tongues" community singing event from 1:00pm to 4:00pm Saturday, March 29th, with the theme being "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus".

Posted by simon at 12:09 PM Comment

TC3 in Guatemala

Last night's Cortland Standard has an extended article on nine TC3 students visiting Guatemala for two weeks over January.

Posted by simon at 2:59 PM Comment

Community Center Cafe celebrates

It wasn't the official grand opening - that's ThursdayFriday - but the Dryden Community Center Cafe held a Grand Opening Gala tonight to thank its many volunteers and members this evening. Lots of people showed up for the party, which included delicious desserts, previews of the coffee and food to come, live music, and a long list of thank-yous from the Cafe's organizers.

Cake for  the Dryden Community Center Cafe.
Cake for the Dryden Community Center Cafe.

People talking at the Dryden Community Center Cafe.
People talking at the Dryden Community Center Cafe.

Celebration at the Dryden Community Center Cafe.
Celebration at the Dryden Community Center Cafe.

Lots and lots of people were there - I think I might have recognized a quarter of the crowd, which pretty well filled the space.

I've posted a gallery of photos if you'd like to see more. (I'm still recovering from last week's horrible flu, and wasn't really at my top photographically.)

Posted by simon at 9:19 PM Comment

March 26, 2008

Community Center Cafe, Imagination Fabrication

This morning's Ithaca Journal visits the Dryden Community Center Cafe. The article's emphasis on newcomers revitalizing downtown seems to have reopened the perpetual question of what it means to be from Dryden in the comments. (I should add that one of my favorite things about the Cafe is the mix of newcomers and oldtimers working together to make it happen.)

Cathy Wakeman's Dryden Town Talk explores Imagination Fabrication, "the venture of former Dryden educators Barbara Florance and Paula Thoma:"

During her retirement, Barbara was looking forward to using her time visiting fabric shops and nurturing her love of quilting. Paula, who enjoys writing poetry and children's stories, took up yoga with Barbara during retirement and joined her on some of her quilt-store excursions. During these visits, she began seeing some of the characters of her stories in the fabric bolts.

Mutual encouragement found Barbara and Paula illustrating one of Paula's stories with fabric creations and creatures. Each creature and key feature in the story "Lester's Special Gifts" are identified by their own unique, personally descriptive fabric.

They're also doing presentations and workshops around the projects. Wakeman also notes that the Dryden Youth Opportunity Fund is accepting applications for grants again.

State Senator Jim Seward writes to say he'll be working with new Governor Paterson on the budget. I guess we'll find out what that means as budget season progresses. Also, Debbie Franks of Freeville writes on crate training for dogs.

Posted by simon at 12:16 PM Comment

March 29, 2008

New Dryden resident

Angelika gave birth to Sungiva Marie St.Laurent, our first baby, Thursday morning at 3:32am at Cayuga Medical Center. We just came home today. Sungiva arrived as a tiny little cutie at 5 pounds, fifteen ounces (2684 grams), and 17 inches (43cm) long.

I'm happy to report that Angelika and Sungiva are both doing very well.

Angelika and Sungiva
Angelika and Sungiva.

Spring seems extremely happy about Sungiva. I've never actually seen her so welcoming of any newcomer.

I introduce Spring to Sungiva
I introduce Spring to Sungiva.

Sungiva, I think, is remarkably cute.

Sungiva closer up
Sungiva closer up.

And for everyone who's wondering, the name is pronounced Soon-gheev-ah, accent on the 'gheev'. It's the original Anglo-Saxon version of Sunniva. The name means "sun-giving".

Posting here will be light for a while!

Posted by simon at 4:12 PM Comment