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Fielding concerns

WAVERLY — Two weeks after residents came before the Waverly village board with concerns about conduct that was allegedly used by recreation director Dave Shaw towards boys in East Waverly Park, Mayor Patrick Ayres addressed the issue in a conversation with the Morning Times.

Parents had returned to the board earlier this week looking for follow-up discussions by the board regarding the incident. However, the issue was not on the agenda, and no public statements were made by board members.

On Wednesday, Ayres declined to offer specifics on any action the board took, citing the incident as a personnel issue discussed in executive session.

He did, however, note that trustee Keith Engelbert, who was assigned along with deputy mayor Andrew Aronstam to look into the incident, was replaced on that committee by Charlie Havens after learning of a personal conflict of interest between Engelbert and Shaw.

The mayor also stated that he and the board recognized the importance of how village employees interact with members of the public.

“We all need to be aware of how things come off and how things are perceived,” he said. “The intention of one thing could be perceived by other people as something else. So, of course, we need to be aware of what we’re doing and saying, and how that is perceived by the public. But we’ve looked at the issue, and talked directly and privately to the affected parties.”

Nevertheless, the mayor commended the recreation department and its work to continue bringing programs and events to the community.

“I truly believe that we have an extensively robust recreational program that offers our community lots of opportunities,” Ayres added.

To lend a hand to the community, Calvary Baptist Church hosts after school program

ATHENS — Despite a lack of attendance, the Calvary Baptist Church has hosted an after school program for students in the Athens Area School District to help benefit the community and its kids.

This after school program by Calvary Baptist Church was established after speaking with the Athens Area School District Superintendent Craig Stage.

“(Stage) got the pastors in the area together and asked us, what do you guys do for some of the kids in the area and how can we work together for the benefit for the community. He suggested that someone start an after school program, so we did,” Pastor Mark Cox said.

This is the first year for the Calvary Baptist Church’s after school program. The program keeps to the same schedule as the school year, starting in September and ending in June.

On Wednesday, the program had five kids attend.

The program includes numerous different activities, games and arts and crafts for the kids to participate in, which include Jenga, legos, or a scavenger hunt.

The church has a gym and yard for kids to run around and “burn off some energy.” The program holds a reading period, where Diane Hubert, a member of the program, reads from the Jesus storybook bible to the kids in attendance. And Grace Cox, another member of the program, leads the kids in songs and teaches some sign-language to the kids.

One of the activities the program offers is “Adult Talk Time.” This feature incorporates one-on-one talks with the adults supervising the program.

“We pair up an adult with a child and have them just have some conversation. (We’re) just trying to build some good interaction between the kids and adults, giving them some more ability to interact with adults, knowing how to talk with adults, that sort of thing,” Cox said.

“Adult Talk Time” was developed mainly for older students who participate in the after school program, though as Cox states, the program rarely had any older kids attend.

“It’s kind of in question whether we’ll continue next year or not, just because attendance has been so low,” Cox said. “We’re trying to find, maybe there’s another way that we can pour energies in to engage and to help some of the school kids.”

Cox stated the church will evaluate the after school program after the school year is ended and decide whether or not the church will continue the program.

Stage has expressed “disappointment” in the lack of kids participating to Cox.

“It’s been really good for the kids who did come out. So it’s not wasted by any means. It’s not like we’re looking at this as a failure at all,” Cox said. “But, as a church, we have limited resources (and) limited time. How do we use those limited things to really mean unlimited means?”

“That’s part of the question, so it’s not necessarily saying this was a failure and we’re not going to do that again; that’s not at all what we’re saying. We’re saying that we want to constantly improve in what we’re doing. So, if there’s a better way to minister, we want to do it that way,” Cox said.

Legislators: Awareness of stroke symptoms saves lives

OWEGO — On Tuesday, Tioga County Legislators issued a handful of proclamations for the month of May in an annual effort to raise awareness of critical issues affecting local communities.

Among the proclamations issued was one for American Stroke Month, presented by Legislator Bill Standinger.

“I’m wearing this red shirt because it’s stroke awareness month, and since I was a recipient of a stroke, I take this matter to heart,” he said. “I do want to say that I was very fortunate that I was able to call someone who came and recognized that I was having a medical problem 10 years ago.”

“As a result of that, I’m here today,” Standinger continued. “Some people might not be so happy about that.”

“It’s very important to recognize these symptoms,” he said. “I can tell you, I had no idea what was happening to me until I had someone sticking needles in my arm, telling me I was having a stroke.”

“Believe me, that was no fun — and neither was 12 days in the hospital,” he said.

While reading the proclamation, Standinger explained that stroke warning signs include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion; trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.

A quick-reference guide to assessing a stroke is the acronym FAST — Face, Arms, Speech, Time (to call 911).

Studies show that the quick actions by EMS professionals are instrumental in saving lives from stroke and producing better outcomes for stroke survivors, but more than a third of stroke patients fail to use EMS, the proclamation states.

Statistics show that stroke prevalence is expected to increase by 20.5 percent between 2012 and 2030, along with a 158 percent increase in direct medical costs — from $71 billion to $183 billion — within the same timeframe, nationally.

“Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, killing over 140,000 people nationwide and more than 20 citizens of Tioga County each year,” Standinger said.

Additionally, legislators issued a proclamation for Elder Abuse Prevention Month, with the aim to raise awareness to reduce abuse and neglect of elderly individuals throughout local communities.

The proclamation states that “many of the cases investigated by Adult Protective Services in New York involve self-neglect or financial exploitation and it is our duty as citizens to reach out to people in need.”

Further, the legislative proclamation notes the critical role elderly people play in local communities through the preservation of customs, traditions and diverse backgrounds, along with the wisdom and experience they bring.

Legislators noted that elder abuse is a widespread problem affecting hundreds of thousands of people across the country while being underreported due to feelings of shame or fear.

Lastly, legislators sought to remind residents of mental health awareness through another proclamation which urges the promotion of values of acceptance, dignity and social inclusion for individuals of all ages.

“Mental illness is the leading illness-related cause of disability, a major cause of death through suicide, a factor in school failure, a contributor of poor overall health, incarceration, and homelessness,” the proclamation states. “Mental illness in adults and serious emotional and mental health disorders in children and youth are real and treatable.”

Legislators noted that evidence abounds that early intervention and family-centered treatment can result in reduction and effective management of symptoms such that individuals with mental illness can live full, productive and meaningful lives in their communities.

editor / Dave Post/Morning Times 

Athens' Damien Hudson competes in the 100 meters at last week's Northern Tier League Track and Field Championships.

Waverly mayor puts out initial plan to strengthen code enforcement

WAVERLY — Waverly Mayor Patrick Ayres this week put forth a proposal as a starting point to take a fresh attempt to tackle the blight plaguing the village.

Dilapidated properties and code enforcement has been a recurring issue at village board meetings as officials and residents continuously discuss feasible ways to address the problems.

But this week, Ayres proposed splitting the village up into six sections — three for each of the municipality’s part-time code officers, Bob Chisari and Chris Robinson — to add more structure and organization to the process.

The recommendation came following a meeting between village and Town of Barton officials, along with Waverly Police officers and code enforcers.

“We reviewed general code enforcement issues in the village and the different roles that different people play,” Ayres said. “We also came up with a list of approximately 30 properties that are presenting particular concerns.”

Pertaining to the six aforementioned sections, Ayres explained that, over the next several months, Chisari and Robinson will look at the problematic houses in their respective sections similar to taking an inventory of the village, so to speak.

“We are going to make a stab at trying to make things better,” he said. “Another thing we’re going to be looking at is the code itself. Things in the past that maybe the village hasn’t been as concerned about, like excessively peeling paint or sidewalks in need of replacement or repair.”

That topic led Ayres to remind village residents of several programs available for low- to moderate-income households to assist with the cost of such projects.

Specifically, the municipality has a sidewalk program that will provide 75 percent or up to $1,000 for a qualifying homeowner within the village.

“That figure goes up to $2,000 if you own a corner lot,” Ayres clarified. “Because, obviously, if you own a corner lot, then you have twice the amount of sidewalk.”

Another initiative is the village’s paint program, which can provide up to a $500 rebate for the cost of paint to qualifying homeowners.

Also available to residents are the municipality’s Community Development Block Grant monies and rehab program, which is a low-interest loan to assist with the costs on a variety of home improvement projects, including roof installation, plumbing replacement, electric work and more.

“And when our code enforcers are out and about and talking with residents, they’ll be able to to give people a sheet with these programs on it,” Ayres said. “We don’t want to just be a thorn in people’s side. We want to be helpful and let people know that there are programs available that might be able to help.”

The village even has a tree program in which the municipality can provide residents with funding to plant trees on their property, the mayor added.

More information on these programs can be found by calling the village office at (607) 565-8106.