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reater GUtica February 2018 Vol IV Issue 3

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Beneath the Surface

Delta

Ellis Roberts

Whitesboro Historical Museum & Judy Harp Mallozzi

Chasing the Burn: The Wormworths & more!

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Contents February 2018

Beneath the Surface

Delta Page 4

In My Travels Around Greater Utica - Page 15 Whitesboro Historical Museum & Judy Harp Mallozzi

GU Coupon - Pages 24 & 25 Featured Businesses Heidelberg Bread Company Page 22 Mohawk Automotive Page 27 McGrath, Myslinski, Karboski & Nunn Page 28 Delta Lake Inn Page 30

Center Stage at the Stanley - Page 29 Up on the Hill - Page 31

Ellis Henry Roberts

Chasing the Burn - The Wormworths - Page 36 A Team that Binds Us - Page 45

Web: www.GUmagazine.com email: cs@GUmagazine.com Phone: 315-316-7277 Facebook: www.facebook.com/greaterutica


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Beneath the Surface

Delta Brad Velardi

In life, we sometimes absorb or interpret what we see at face value without taking a concentrated, in-depth look. It’s almost always true that there is much more to know beneath the surface of what our eyes are telling us. That is one of the most incredible aspects of history; it can be visually captivating, but the “behind the scenes” story is often even more interesting. Take a historic monument for example; it’s simple to appreciate the level of skill and craftsmanship, of say, a marble statue. But why was the subject worthy of replication? How long and hard did the artist have to work to complete the piece?


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You see, there is often a story behind the story that holds an incredible level of substance. There are some topics that, more than others, prove this to be true; the history of Delta Lake is near the top of that list. Quite literally, there is a chapter of this local tale that lies “beneath the surface” of the waters in Delta Lake; one that is forgotten or unknown by many of us in the area. When we think of Delta Lake, it is easy to revert to the great times we’ve shared there with family and friends. On an emotional level, personal memories and breathtaking scenery at the Delta Lake State Park are our only attachment. The truth is, that many years ago, the area where the lake lies meant much more to a whole lot of people. For the citizens of the Village of Delta, the bed of the lake was once their hometown, but that was changed abruptly in the

early 1900s. With the building of Delta Dam came the destruction of the village, although the dam’s construction was quite necessary. While the wiping out of Delta may have been a step backward in the lives of those living within it, the Dam provided a step forward for the local people as a whole. It is one of the great architectural marvels in the Mohawk Valley and one to certainly be proud of; not only did it serve a few crucial purposes of its own, but it also led to the development of one of our favorite places to visit. The Village of Delta When discussing the Village of Delta, one must start with the establishment of the towns of Western and Lee. Just following the Revolutionary War, a land grant of 40,000 acres, that would eventually become Western, was awarded to Jellis Fonda. By the late 1780s, families were settling in the small town with the

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after Lee, Massachusetts, which was the hometown of many of its early inhabitants. The first Town Hall meeting in Lee was held on March 3rd, 1812. The prosperity of both towns was guided by their close proximity to several bodies of water including: the Mohawk River, Lansing Kill, Stringer Brook, Wells Creek, Fish Creek, Canada Creek and West Creek. Within the original 40,000-acre plot of land, The Village

first-ever bridge across the Mohawk River being built in 1789. On March 10th, 1797, the Town of Western was officially formed from the Town of Steuben, with its first Town Board meeting held on April 4th. Being that it was the western segment of the original town, the origin of its name is self-explanatory. In 1802, Revolutionary War general and signer of the Declaration of Independence, William Floyd built his home on Main Street. The home can still be seen today. Throughout the 1790s and early 1800s, Western was filling itself with numerous businesses to accommodate its growing population. In 1811, the Town of Lee was formed from the Town of Western; it was named

of Delta was formed with portions lying in both modern-day Lee and Western. In the early 1800s, a gentleman by the name of Israel Stark arrived and planned the layout of the village; one he

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Above: The Empire Hotel in Delta, NY. Pictures on pages 6 &7 Courtesy of Rome Historical Society and Mary Centro

referred to as Union Valley. The village enjoyed a fast and steady growth with the settlement of many families and the establishment of several businesses and mills. The village’s close proximity to the Mohawk River and Black River Canal were tremendously beneficial to both settlers and business owners. Delta’s fertile land was ideal for the growth of a new settlement, which is why it was chosen by some of the pioneers of our country. There are many folk tales told as to where its name came from, but there is one that is most popular of all. It has been reported that Captain Gates Peck once stated that while standing upon the hills that overlooked the bend in the Mohawk River, by drawing an imaginary line in the bend, one would have the letter D. The Latin letter D translated into Delta in the Greek alphabet; with that, it is said that the village’s name was created. The Village of Delta was one of great production and employment opportunities. Before long, the village had many successful businesses scattered throughout including: a produce canning factory, a Native American trading post, the Black River House, hotel, a blacksmith shop, a cider mill, saw mill, grist mill and a three-story brick block that housed a general store, post office, living spaces, and the Baron von Steuben Masonic Lodge No. 264. Among some of the most prominent and historically relevant businesses in Delta were its cheese factory (established in 1863), which was the second oldest in American history, and the Empire

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Pictures on pages 8 & 9 Courtesy of Rome Historical Society and Mary Centro Hotel which now houses the Town of Western Town Hall. A mill dam was also constructed across the Mohawk to allow the village mills to function. The building of the Mohawk Aqueduct also helped the village grow as it served as a feeder for the Black River Canal; carrying its waters over the Mohawk River. Delta was a nice, close-knit community with citizens that

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took great pride in their village. They constructed schools for their children, churches, a cemetery and other institutions that brought its people together. They enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the area, including an incredible view from the Palisades of the Mohawk River. Like any other town, they had their popular citizens and community gatherings that built a level of comradery that is

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2 Large Cheese Pizzas for $19.99 2 Large Cheese Pizzas and 20 Boneless Wings for $31.99 2-Foot Party Sub for $13 necessary to thrive. One would imagine that most of the folks living within the village had never imagined a life anywhere else. Unfortunately for them, the decision to leave Delta would be one that was out of their hands. Building Delta Dam In the early-1900s, it became evident to the state that improvements needed to be made to its canal system. The original route of the Erie Canal had flowed past some of the state’s major cities, and in 1903, New York State legislature permitted the construction of the New York State Barge Canal. It was termed the “Improvement of the Erie, the Oswego, the Champlain and the

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Cayuga and Seneca Canals” and was expected to cost an estimated $101,000,000. Completion of the project would only be possible with the building of 5 reservoirs to feed water into the new Barge Canal. It was concluded that one of these reservoirs needed to

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be built on the Mohawk River at a set of cliffs near the Village of Delta. The reservoir would be created by a dam, which would capture the spring floods of the Mohawk River; it would ultimate-

Small villages of Delta’s day were no different than those of the present; rumors made their way from one end to the other. One rumor that was particularly humorous to the folks of Delta, was that the state planned on building this huge dam in the gorge below the village. What started out as far-fetched gossip quickly became a fearful reality when surveyors were spotted marking the streets of Delta and the surrounding hillsides right before the villagers’ very eyes. At first, it must have seemed like a bad dream but as the pending doom of Delta neared, its people were forced to find a new place to live. The state paid the citizens for their homes and property, but that did not stop their eyes from filling with tears and their hearts from filling with pain. After receiving their evacuation notices, Delta patrons began moving and settling in the cities and towns surrounding the Pictures on pages 10 & 11 Courtesy of Rome Historical Society and Mary Centro village; some moved to the hills overlookly flood the village and bring upon its demise. Although the state’s intention to build this reservoir was not malicious, it would turn the lives of Delta citizens upside down. The improvement of the canal system was imperative due to its significance to the state’s economy, and it needed a sufficient amount of water. With that said, it was decided that the village would be sacrificed for the greater good of all New Yorkers.

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ing their former homes. Many of the houses and buildings were transported to other areas (like the Empire Hotel for instance), some were razed, and trees were chopped down. Despite their heartbreak, the Delta folks were surprisingly cooperative with the state; there was only one citizen that has been reported to have taken legal action. By 1908, the project was officially under way as construction workers and heavy-duty equipment arrived on the scene. The equipment and large materials used made their way to the site via a set of temporary railroad tracks. Tools such as the steam shovel and crane were crucial to the construction process. Buildings were also erected for such uses as a boiler room and machine shop. A steam engine-powered concrete mixer was built to assist in the construction of the dam, aqueduct and locks. In all, the dam would consist of 85,000 cubic yards of concrete and stone. Only the finest of materials and architectural methods were used during the building process; one of the top contractors in the state was chosen to direct the project. It has been reported that most of the men working on the dam were Italians; during construction, they developed a village of their own on a highland on the east side of the dam. The men worked relentlessly over the next 4 years to complete the job; one of the necessary tasks in need of completion was the excavation work performed to move the Black River Canal. When the project began, the canal ran directly through the Delta gorge; therefore, the dam could not be completed until the canal was moved. Beside the dam, a 62-foot high three-lock combine was built to raise and lower boats from the cliffs at the palisades. While a new channel for the canal was being dug, the one originally in place was used to transport coal, cement and steel from the City of Rome.

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disperse reservoir water into the Mohawk. By October 1912, Delta Dam was completed on schedule, but it would take until May of 1916 before water would finally go over. When the job was finished, the dam was named in honor of the village that once stood in its place. Today, it plays a very important role in our community as it minimizes potential flood conditions from the Mohawk River. A centennial celebration for the completion of the dam was held on August 26th, 2012. The 100th anniversary committee, led by Delta historian Mary Centro and Lee Center-native Edward Davis, planned the

Along with loads of manpower, many horses and mules were used to perform the bull work around the construction site. Delta Dam as a structure is impressive to say the least. The crest of the dam sets 100 feet above its foundation and is 1,000 feet in length. In the center of the main dam is a 300-foot spillway installed to guide the passage of floods from the Mohawk River. A ten-foot pool sets at the base of the dam and 4 discharge pipes

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Pictures on pages 12 &13 Courtesy of Rome Historical Society and Mary Centro

event over a 4-month period. The celebration included displays depicting the history of the dam, horse-drawn wagon rides, speeches and activities for children. A crowd of over 500 watched as the anniversary plaque was unveiled; the plaque is attached to a limestone rock that matches those near the dam and was donated by the town of Western Highway Department. Mary Centro, who has worked so hard to preserve the history of the Village of Delta, Delta Dam and Delta Lake, described the celebration as “a beautiful day”. Delta Lake The Village of Delta was gone forever, but what took its place was one of our area’s favorite points of recreation. Over the past century, Delta Lake has welcomed all lovers of water and nature; whether it be swimmers, beachgoers, boat riders, jet skiers, snowmobilers and especially fisherman. Walleyes, northern pike, rock bass and other kinds of fish can all be found in the waters of Delta Lake. In all, Delta Lake is 4.8 square miles and 3,000 acres of land that translate into one of the most beautiful places in all


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of Central New York. The towns of Lee and Western set on the shores of the lake that now sets on top of the former Village of Delta. Yet another significant chapter in the Delta saga was written in the 1960s. In a May 24th, 1962 issue of The Syracuse Post-Standard, it was announced that a consulting firm was named to prepare a feasibility study and development plan for the proposed Delta Lake State Park. It was believed that the park would satisfy the demand for outdoor recreational activity in what was a much more densely populated area at the time. It also helped that the waters of the man-made lake were very fresh and clean. As the plan was being formulated, temporary picnic facilities were built by the Conservation Department to accommodate 200 people in the summer. It took several years before intense construction would begin and the estimated cost of the project was $1,250,000 with an anticipated annual revenue of $40,000. Work on the park began in 1965 and great anticipation surrounded its opening; people from all over Central New York had been regularly reading about it in their local papers. Photos of the facility, including the concrete bathhouse were released by several print publications drawing a great deal of excitement. The project was not done overnight though as due to a cut in state funding, Delta Lake State Park’s opening was delayed. By July 1st, 1968, the park finally made its debut. The park opening was met with incredible support from the local people; by July 15th, it had already welcomed 18,158 total visitors, including 11,000 in one weekend. A newspaper report that same day stated that 7,000 tons of sand had been trucked in earlier in the week. A report on July 24th, stated that more than 22,000 people had visited Delta Lake State Park over the previous week. One of the big draws for fans of the park were the 100 campsites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. By 1972, the park welcomed its 1,000,000th customer as business continued to boom. In September 2005, it was announced that Delta Lake State Park would double in size after 720 acres of canal corporation-owned land was transferred. Delta Lake State Park’s success continues to this day; in 2013, it welcomed over 221,000 visitors during that year alone. In 2014, it was announced that, thanks to $3.3 million in state funding, the park would be able to install new water and electrical systems in its campgrounds. As any government-funded program will tell you, these funds are difficult to get your hands on; New York’s willingness to show this type of

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Pictures Courtesy of Rome Historical Society and Mary Centro

over the years. For me personally, Delta Lake was the very first place I ever fished in my life; my family, like countless others in our community, held its family reunion celebrations there. The story of the village, dam and park is one that adds to the great character of the Mohawk Valley. It is a reminder that, in historical topics especially, there is more than meets the eye; there is always a story beneath the surface. A very special “thank you” to Delta historian and Western-native Mary Centro, and the Rome Historical Society; both parties provided us with a wealth of photographs, postcards and historical data that was crucial in the writing of this story. For more information on every-

financial support is a testament to the significance of Delta Lake State Park. The villagers of Delta left their homes in sadness no doubt; but they can rest assured that the land that once provided them with great memories, has done just that for so many others

thing related to the Village of Delta, Delta Dam, Delta Lake and the towns of Lee and Western, you can purchase both of Mary Centro’s Images of America books online or at several local establishments (including the historical society). They are titled: “The Lost Village of Delta” and “Around Delta Lake: Lee and Western”.

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In My Travels Around

Greater Utica

One of two Alba Scott paintings at the Whitesboro History Museum 1860 to 1984. This building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Through the assistance of Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi who helped obtain a New York State grant, the museum was assured of success. The first room is a very large area filled with displays that beckon a visitor to investigate their worth. One is quickly drawn to a mural the size of the entire west wall of the room (33 1/2 feet x 9 1/2 feet above the wainscoting). It is a depiction of the various points of interest in the four villages: Whitesboro, New

The Whitesboro Historical Museum Haven for all things Whitestown also: Judy Harp Mallozzi by Joseph P. Bottini Oneida County Historian The bonding agent that holds a community together is its collective history. Our many local-history venues collect, preserve and organize this information in useable form. All, including the granddaddy of local history repositories, the Oneida County History Center, operate on small budgets with one or no paid employees and too few volunteers. To them we owe a debt of gratitude. My initial impression of being overwhelmed was soon dissipated by getting lost in the interesting and openly displayed artifacts, paintings, posters, books and printed material telling the story of Whitesboro and vicinity at the Whitesboro Historical Museum. From 1807 to 1853 the building housing the museum was an Oneida County Courthouse and later the Whitestown Town Hall containing Town Clerk’s Office, Town Court and Village of Whitesboro Court from

York Mills, Yorkville and Oriskany of the Town of Whitestown. The mural was created and painted by high school students, and their teachers, for the celebration of the town’s Bi-Centennial in 1984. It was completed as part of the town hall’s restoration. It is still a very large attraction in the room that is now the main area of the Whitesboro Historical Museum. In our naturally curious manner we discovered the information leading to the birth of Whitestown.

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It was named for its founder Hugh White from Connecticut who settled here in 1784. Judge White, not a restless young man, was 51 when he left his home in Connecticut. White would send the best of his farm produce back to his friends in Connecticut enticing them to join him and settling in this new territory. There is a large portrait of Philo White (founder’s grandson) on the north wall highly visible upon entering the room. (Editor’s note: During the American Revolutionary War many New England soldiers had the opportunity to view the vast farmland of the Mohawk Valley on their way west crossing at the ford of the Mohawk River at Old Fort Schuyler - now Utica) Two other rather large wall hangings are two oil paintings by local renowned artist Alba Scott. They were commissioned by the Savings Bank then located in the Colonial Shopping Center. When the bank moved across the street, Highway Superintendent Chuck Tritten (checking on the demolition of the old bank) asked what was going to happen to the paintings. The bank president was moved to donate them to the Village of Whitesboro, the museum not yet born. In 2004, Alba Scott was very pleased when she visited the museum and saw them proudly displayed on its walls. One could not have a museum in Oneida County without Erie Canal artifacts and displays depicting its local history. The Whitesboro Historical Museum is not the exception, but proves the rule as it has multiple artifacts and displays dedicated to this nationally important event - “Clinton’s Ditch” - in the history of our nation. An interesting display about a local Whitesboro restaurant and tavern, itself an artifact of local history relating to the culture of many local residents, is supported by a large easel. A photo of

the iconic (for Whitesboro) establishment, and a short story of its existence festooned with a green bunting decorated with various Irish pins drew my attention. Eagerly, I read the information about a place I passed by many times over the years and wondered of its lore. Bill and Alice McCarthy opened the popular McCarthy’s

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Left: The former McCarthy’s Restaurant on Clinton Street. Right: McCarthy’s Restaurant owner Bill McCarthy. Far Right: Potter Vincent R. Clemente.

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Restaurant located on Clinton Street in 1939. Famous for its Limburger cheese sandwiches and St. Patrick’s Day corn-beef dinners, Alice featured several homemade recipes from her kitchen as many old-timers now testify. Their son Jim took ownership of the establishment upon the death of Bill in 1960. “Progress” forced the demolition of this “every-town-has-one” restaurant in 1995. To re-live the days one fondly remembers is a blissful experience. Don’t miss the opportunity. In one scrapbook a visitor can discover the story of a decorative ceramic-pottery container on display in a glass case. Potter Vincent R. Clemente, at the time a Whitesboro resident and instructor at Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, created an intricate ornamental container for the Town of Whitesboro’s 1976 Bi-Centennial Committee. One site from each of the four villages in the town of Whitestown was fashioned onto the container. Each side had its own village representation, one being the Oriskany Battlefield Monument for the village of Oriskany; another is the “Middle” mill for New York Mills, the other two sides were the Town Hall for Whitesboro and the old firehouse on Main Street representing Yorkville. What began as a fund-raising project for the committee became a worthy addition to the Whitesboro Historical Museum. As is often true, the container has little practical purpose, but is a reminder of the Bi-Centennial Celebration as well as keeping alive often forgotten aspects of the town’s history. A display of the B.T. Babbitt Company is just another local factory until one reads the information that accompanies the large display. The company opened in 1870 and Babbitt was known as the “soap king” – “made for the laundry or bath, try B. T. Babbitt’s 99 soap.” The factory was located on the south bank of the Erie

Canal just west of the present fire station on what is now Oriskany Street. Rather mundane information until reading further one discovers he invented “Babbo” cleanser, remembered by the kid in me for its outstanding cleaning power. Further reading tells of a bizarre event. “Babbitt loved horses; it is said that his prized horse was poisoned, so he had a taxidermist stuff it and put it in his factory to remind others of the crime.” Learning this little bit of off-beat information led me to think, “What if he loved his wife to the same level he loved his horse and she was murdered” . . .? Let us attribute his reaction to that of an creative genius for he did hold many patents for many inventions including: ordinary draft

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heaters for locomotives among many other mechanical devices. Any visitor to the Whitesboro Museum would be captivated by the myriad of displays and historic articles for viewing and studying. Plan a multiple-hour block of time as it was obvious to me my intention of an hour visit was shortsighted, leaving me to promise to return and finish the journey through this cavern of history. The nationally famous Oneida Institute, later the Oneida Seminary was a post-secondary school that has the distinction of being the first in the nation to admit African-American and White students together. The school and its Christian values helped grow the Great Awakening, a spiritual revival throughout central New York State. This revival in part fostered support for the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the Abolition Movement. It was located

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in buildings behind the present J. W. Dimbleby Funeral Home on Main Street. The Whitesboro Historical Museum is located at 8 Park Ave, Whitesboro, NY. It is handicap accessible and is open on Mondays from June to October, 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm or by appointment. There are restroom facilities on premises. For information or an opportunity to visit please call Dana Nimey-Olney at the village office - 315 736 1613 for an appointment. Judy Harp Mallozzi - Dedicated, Whitesboro Village Historian/ Museum Curator Judy Mallozzi has a deep love for history and an innate sense of its importance. She is the Village of Whitesboro historian and the energy behind its wonderful museum. When asked how she became so deeply interested in local history her reply was not surprising: “As a child my grandfather lived with us and I was fascinated by his stories and those of other older people.” One can easily discern her love of history and the work she does at the museum as her face radiates with obvious joy as she narrates a tour of the museum. The satisfaction of saving the past for people to experience today and for youngsters who will want to know about the past of their community is the fuel for the engine driving this deeply-rooted historian. Mallozzi was Deputy Village Clerk when she began collecting “historic stuff ” and storing it in the village office located on Moseley Street. At that time, the village mayor Joseph Malecki asked her to become the village historian. She was getting involved answering questions while at her job and it all grew from that

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Judy Harp Mallozzi with poster of her book Images of America Whitesboro (2) beginning. In 1999 Judy Mallozzi, Richard Pugh (one-time mayor and noted local historian), his wife Linda Reeder Pugh, Gail Snyder, Burton Sperry, Nancy Schindler and Patrick O’Connor sat around the Pugh kitchen table and organized the Whitesboro Historical Society. Each had a deep interest in local history and Judy had been collecting Whitestown historic material with the dream of establishing a local museum. The Whitesboro Historical Society received their provisional charter in 2000. The new mayor, Patrick O’Connor, did not need the upstairs room for an office so Judy was able to use it as a place to establish a “museum” displaying the accumulated history material. She had been promised a location where she could establish a permanent museum beyond the “make-shift” display in the upper floor of the village office building on Moseley Street. Although happy to have a place to set up the collected historical materials, her known desire for a permanent location for a museum was widely discussed. Mayor O’Connor promised to help her reach her goal. Judy Mallozzi, given promises before and experienced previous disappointments, quietly doubted it would happen. She was worried that if a museum was not properly established, “no one would know where anything was and some of the precious collections would be lost over time.”

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course all renovations need to comply with the dictates of the National Register. “She would also like to have repairs made to the building’s cupola. Housed in this roof–top structure is the original bell - last rung for the 200th birthday of this iconic building. Each year the Oneida County History Center (formerly the Oneida County Historical Society), directed by its accomplished and hard working executive director Brian Howard, selects individual county residents who have

Exhibits at the Whitestown History Museum.

One day Mayor O’Connor walked into her office and said, “Judy, I am a man of my word and I keep my promises.” The second floor of the Town Hall building in the village became empty when the town court moved. It had been vacant for a few years. and needed cleaning, however it was empty and ready for a new tenant. Sheriff Maciol helped with the painting chore by providing the services of some of his incarcerated population. Philo White, grandson of Hugh White (town founder) and other White heirs had re-acquired proprietorship of the building as the deed stated the building was to be used for municipal purposes or revert back to the White family. The White family again gifted the building to the village to ensure a place for a municipal museum to preserve Whitestown’s history. Like a good custodian of all things history, Judy said, “I couldn’t believe it until ribbon- cutting; then I was relieved and assured all artifacts could be preserved.” Judy is interested in replacing the drafty, leaky windows and installing a new outside door, the entrance to the museum. Of

distinguished themselves in their field of endeavor, contributed mightily to the history preservation of our county and/or brought credit to Oneida County. In 2016, Judy was chosen as a Richard W. Couper Living Legend. Her biography from that induction ceremony program-book reads in part as follows: “Judy Mallozzi has an incredible love for history and a drive to educate others about the past. . . . the stories of Whitesboro’s

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history – stories that could be lost if not for her tireless efforts to save them. Judy has lived in Whitesboro her entire life. . . . married to her childhood sweetheart for 54 years and has three children and six grandchildren. . . . attended Utica School of Beauty Culture and took Banking Institute classes. . . . completed the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardner program and is a notary public. She is the former deputy clerk and treasurer for the Village of Whitesboro. She has been the village historian for the past 17 years. . . . a founding member of the Whitesboro

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Historical Society . . . established the first history museum . . . curator and director of the Whitesboro Historical Museum . . . an Oneida County Historians Association trustee, and received the OCHA Historian of the Year award in 2009. . . . Her long affiliation with the First Presbyterian Church of Whitesboro includes service as a deacon and session member. Along with village clerk Dana Nimey-Olney, she co-authored the book Images of America : Whitesboro. Editor’s Note: OCHA is Oneida County Historians Association. Judy credits the Oneida County History Center (Oneida County Historical Society), Frank Tomaino and Richard Aust as mentors in those early days. “Lack of funds for display cases, lack of help from volunteers and getting the interest of young people are my greatest challenges,” Judy said. “My overall joy as curator is we are preserving the history of the Mother of all towns, Whitestown, the village of Whitesboro and sharing it with so many people who had no idea the scope of Hugh White’s legacy.

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When an entrepreneur refuses to compromise the quality of their product for financial gain, it can prolong the process of getting their business off the ground. This is particularly true in the retail food industry; one that often times is dictated by huge companies that mass produce their products. But the individual who chooses not to settle for anything less than their standard, who does not succumb to the pressure of their competitors, separates themselves from the pack. It’s been a long time coming, but after years of dedication, Heidelberg Bread Company founder, Boyd Bissell Sr., has been able to share his product with shoppers across New York State and beyond. As a young boy growing up near Otsego Lake, Boyd’s interest in food seemed to come naturally. Both his mother and father would routinely cook in the family home and Boyd knew quite early on in his life that his living would be made in the kitchen. His career started as a teenager at the Otesaga Hotel and Resort in Cooperstown, where he worked under head chef Jimmy Dodge. Inspired by Dodge’s skill and approach, Boyd gained a great deal of knowledge before furthering his culinary education at Paul Smith’s College and the University of New Hampshire. It was in the midst of his years of schooling that Boyd explored France and found his new passion: bread. Specifically, Boyd had an affection for the “fresh, crispy, fluffy, airy” artisan bread he had tasted while in Paris. After returning to the states, Boyd finished his schooling, but he still longed for that same bread he fell in love with. He had been informed of a small bakery in Plainfield, Vermont that sold a European bread quite similar to the one he had been searching for. After visiting the bakery, Boyd found that the claims were true, and he was inspired to return to his hometown and begin experimenting with a recipe of his own. He realized that he not only would be able to enjoy this bread himself, but he would also be able to introduce it to people who had never experienced that taste. Using his pizza oven, Boyd began baking bread inside his Fly Creek home just outside of Cooperstown. His true wish was to share his bread with the public as he knew it would be a much healthier alternative to the product sold by large corporate companies. The recipe consisted of 4 to 5 simple ingredients, was free of any preservatives and was made using a slow fermentation process with no bromination. The goal was to replicate the quality and taste of the authentic European breads from Paris, no matter how much time it would take. When Boyd had met that standard, he realized it was time to make his dream come true. Originally, Boyd sold his bread out of the Sportsman’s Tavern in Cooperstown, an establishment he owned. Hoping to grow his bread business, he moved his operation to Utica in 1983 and the Heidelberg name was born. Boyd baked his Heidelberg Bread in Utica until 1992, when Heidelberg moved to its current location on Route 28 North in Herkimer. Since making their move to Herkimer, Heidelberg’s annual bread sales have grown substantially over the past 25-plus years. In 2016, the company had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their brand-new 28,800 square-foot facility that is capable of producing 18,000 loaves of bread per day. The Herkimer building houses the Heidelberg Café, where customers can not only purchase the company’s bread, but choose from a huge selection of pastries, or enjoy a sit-down meal for breakfast and lunch. First things first; let’s talk about Heidelberg bread. Regardless which flavor you choose, each loaf is made entirely of all-natural ingredients. Whether you visit the café or just about every single grocery store in the area, you can choose from several Heidelberg breads including: oat bran, multigrain, Jewish rye, hearty flaxseed, French peasant, dinner rolls, cracked wheat, ciabatta, biag asti Italian, baguette, 100% whole wheat, white, sour dough, rye, raisin sunflower and pumpernickel. In the café and bakery in Herkimer, Heidelberg patrons can choose from some of the most delicious breakfast and lunch specials around. Heidelberg boasts of one of the most generous breakfast sandwiches in the land made on your choice of bread. They also offer other traditional breakfast favorites such as French toast, house omelets and pancakes. For lunch, choose from a list of deli sandwiches, served either cold or grilled or choose from a variety of soups and salads. For dessert, there are countless pastries, pies, cookies and breads that are all made from scratch at the bakery. Some worthy of noting are Heidelberg’s croissants, Danishes, molasses cookies, strudels, and turnovers but there is so much more to choose from. Alongside his daughter, Hadley, and his son Boyd Jr., Boyd Bissell Sr. has created a special product that is enjoyed by folks as far as New Jersey; because no matter where you are from, quality and authenticity translate to success. It is always satisfying to see a hometown company grow and make in impact both in and outside the Mohawk Valley. For more information on Heidelberg Bread Company log on to HeidelbergBread.com, call the café at (315) 866-0999 or visit them at 3056 State Route 28 in Herkimer.


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Mohawk Automotive

SI N E S S For Neil Jacobs, owner of Mohawk Automotive LLC., there was no other career path he was willing to take. From the time he was a little kid, he was what most people would refer to as a “motorhead”. Neil has been in business for himself since he reached adulthood but his automotive service experience dates back to his days of adolescence. Growing up, he was surrounded by siblings that took a keen interest in cars, motorcycles, and everything else they could get their hands on to create horsepower. More than four decades later, Neil is one of the most respected technicians in the area and for good reason. Growing up on Leeds Street in East Utica, Neil and his brothers loved working on automobiles. When Neil was a young man, he worked at his brothers’ shops, where the foundation of his mechanical knowledge was laid. Together, they built motorcycles and minibikes; Neil would eventually become a motorcycle racer on the NHRA Pro Stock circuit for many years. Already with years of experience, Neil opened Mohawk Automotive in 1977 on Mohawk Street in Utica with one other partner. A handful of years later, the lease on the building was up and Neil went off on his own; opening a new garage on the corner of 3rd Ave and Elizabeth Street. From there, Neil moved to a new location on the corner of South Street and Kossuth Ave., where he immediately put an addition on the building. Mohawk Automotive remained at that very corner for the next 22 years and Neil’s business grew exponentially. Although he enjoyed some level of success at each of his spots, Neil was always looking to find the best location possible. About eleven years ago, he was looking for more exposure, so when a building came up for sale on Commercial Drive in Yorkville, it seemed like a no-brainer. Since 2007, Mohawk Automotive has resided at that location, but the caliber of work performed by Neil has never wavered. Whether it is a car or motorcycle, Mohawk Automotive is equipped to service just about any minor or major issue one has. Everything from a simple oil change to a complete engine replacement is handled in-house by Neil himself. The garage is AAA-certified, which means that it undergoes annual inspections to ensure all of the latest tools and equipment are being used to service customers. Neil is elated to have earned this certification as it keeps the shop on their toes and able to compete with any other business in their field. On top of their five service bays and dyno testing booth, Mohawk Automotive also has a small showroom with brand new motorcycles and apparel. Neil also offers certified welding services and custom paint air brushing; there is a reason they refer to themselves as “your one stop service center”. With chain service centers popping up all over the map, some may wonder, “Why go to an independent shop like Mohawk Automotive?” The answer is simple; at a place like Mohawk Auto, you are dropping your vehicle off to truly skilled, lifelong technicians. They do not rely on just computers to diagnose an issue, they also use their many years of experience to troubleshoot a problem. As changes in the industry occur over time, they keep up with their training to ensure they can service everything from a 1964 Dodge to a 2017 Subaru and everything in between. Most importantly, with Mohawk Auto specifically, you are dealing directly with a technician, Neil Jacobs, when explaining your issue. In the auto service business, honesty and integrity are as important as anything. The average customer is fairly uneducated when it comes to the mechanics of a vehicle and are forced to rely on the word of their technician. One of the reasons Neil says he has lasted more than forty years, is that, “If you stand by what you do, you will never have a problem.” This means that when you come to Mohawk Auto with certain symptoms, Neil finds the issue, diagnoses it and makes the fix. There is no additional, unnecessary work done just to grab more money and the job gets done properly the first time around. Neil describes doing business with Mohawk Automotive as “cut and dry”, which we all can appreciate. For more info on Mohawk Automotive, visit MohawkAutomotiveLLC.com, dial 315-738-1707 or visit the shop at 4952 Commercial Drive in Yorkville.

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McGrath, Myslinski, Karboski & Nunn Funeral Directors

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We all want our lives to be celebrated in some way at our time of passing. During a funeral service, whether it be traditional or not, it is the final chance for friends and family members to say goodbye and it is a funeral director’s duty to ensure the service reflects the wishes of those being honored. It is a large responsibility; one that Chris and Debbie McGrath and their entire staff are humbled to be entrusted with. The McGraths have been working in the funeral service field for more than 40 years and they have adopted the best principles of firms that began in the early 1900s. Over time, they have come up with their own unique approach in hopes that it has made a family’s hardest time a little bit easier. As a child, Chris’ family home was just over the hill from a local cemetery. On a regular basis, his family would see funeral processions pass by their home, prompting them to bless themselves. Occasionally, Chris would follow the procession and observe the memorial services from that hill overlooking the cemetery. Even at his young age, he understood the magnitude of such an event and what an honor it would be to play a part in conducting such a service. Chris’ interest in the profession never left his mind, and by the age of 16, he decided to concentrate on a career in funeral service. Chris’ career began at the Campbell Dean Funeral Home in Oneida and later was employed by the Nunn family at both the Martin J. Nunn Funeral Home in Rome and Quinn Ryan & Nunn Funeral Home in Utica. Over the next several years, Chris and Debbie became involved with several other homes owned by local funeral service families; acquiring the firms as their respective owners approached retirement. In 1997, they relocated to their present location at 470 French Road in Utica; it is the current location of McGrath, Myslinski, Karboski & Nunn Funeral Directors and Surridge & Roberts Funeral Home. By working with a number of firms over the years, including one that was originally established in 1908, the McGrath’s have been able to build something special. The knowledge they have acquired from each of their experienced predecessors has helped them provide a service that combines each of their finest qualities. The lessons they

28 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - February 2018

have learned over time have been critical as they strive to provide the most compassionate service possible. Whether it be emotional or financial-related stress, or both, Chris, Debbie and their staff make it a point to relieve as much of the burden as possible on families during a difficult time. Whether you are planning to honor a loved one or pre-planning your own arrangements, McGrath, Myslinski, Karboski & Nunn provides a number of services. Regardless of your religious denomination or financial situation, their staff will help you draw out every aspect of your service. It is important to them that they provide, within reason, exactly what any individual or family deserves: a proper celebration of life. When it comes to dealing with a cemetery, insurance company, the Veteran’s Administration or any other aspect that brings added stress, the funeral home staff will handle all the details. They also work with those who are facing financial hardships; one of their many mentors once told Chris and Debbie “Always remember, that a family is a family regardless of their financial situation.” Along with Chris and Debbie, their staff consists of several members that have a great deal of experience including: Betty Nunn, Barbara Myslinski, Stephen Karboski Jr., Patrick McGrath (Chris and Debbie’s son), H. Ivor Surridge, Jr. and Tina Szalkowski. Among their team members also is Sister Maureen Denn who plays a crucial role as their Spiritual Director. Quite often, the hardest part about the grieving process is adjusting to life without a loved one. Long past the funeral service, Sister Maureen is there to help support families whenever possible. What makes it all worth it to Chris and Debbie are the kind words people share with them about their approach to service. Some have said the staff treat their jobs more like a ministry than an occupation. What is most gratifying to hear is when people tell them, “If you weren’t here, I don’t know how we would have gotten through.” While people come to them often in great distress it is their hope that families will leave comforted and relieved of some of their burden. McGrath, Myslinski, Karboski & Nunn offers an incredibly wide range of services; those interested can read about all options available at NunnandMcGrath.com. To reach Chris or Debbie, call 315-7971900 or visit them at 470 French Road in Utica.


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CENTER STAGE AT THE

With Jerry Kraus

The Stanley Theater is heating up as we enter February:

The Stanley will once again come alive with the music, singing, dancing and acting of area Central New York’s High School’s drama and music departments on Saturday, February 17th at 2:00pm! Our theater will be open for the community to enjoy local high school students as they perform on the Stanley’s stage! This wonderful local showcase of our area schools so far includes: Proctor High School, New Hartford Sr. High, Central Valley Academy and MORE TO COME. Admission to this event is $10 for adults and $5 for students. For more information come down to the box office Monday through Friday from 10:00am - 4:00pm, give us a call at (315) 724-4000, or go to www.TheStanley.org.

SAVE THE DATE! Saturday, March 10th, The Stanley presents: British Invasion Night, headlined by Joey Molland’s Badfinger. Joey, best known for his work with the now legendary English band Badfinger, will be headlining an entire evening of music dedicated to bands from England from the 1960’s and 70’s. The opening set of British Invasion tunes including The Beatles, the Stones, The Who, The Kinks and many more will be presented by various local musicians dubbed The Central New York All-Stars! After an intermission, Joey Molland and his band will showcase the music of Badfinger, plus Joey’s stories of interaction with The Beatles and others, as an original member of Badfinger. Signed to the Beatles’ Apple label in the late ’60s, Badfinger would go on to score four consecutive worldwide hits from 1970 to 1972: “Come And Get It” (written and produced by Paul McCartney), “No Matter What”, “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue”. In 1971, a cover of the Badfinger song “Without You” by Harry Nilsson became a number one hit on the Billboard charts. Surviving member Joey Molland has continued to keep the Badfinger flame alight through concerts and recordings over the past 40 years. Tickets start at just $20 and are available now at the Stanley Box office. JUST ANNOUNCED: UP MUSIC TELEVISION and COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL presents Jeremy Camp LIVE at The Stanley Theater in Utica on April 19th at 7pm. GRAMMY® nominee Jeremy Camp will perform at the Stanley Theatre on APRIL 19th at 7pm with special guest Dove Award Nominee Micah Tyler. Opening songs will be presented by Mark Bolos the emcee for the concert. Tickets for Jeremy Camp’s ‘The Answer’ Tour are on sale now. A special VIP package is available and start at $65 (Premium) and $99 (Ultimate-Orchestra PIT), which includes a preshow 30 minute Q&A with photo opportunity, early entry at 5:00pm, VIP seating closest to the stage available and an exclusive signed 11x17 tour poster with laminated pass. Reserved seats start at $25-$35-$45 Orchestra Level and $49 for upper Loge seating. (Additional Fees may apply). There are discounts for groups of 10 or more with $5.00 off all ticket price ranges. For tickets and complete details call The Stanley Box Office at (315) 724-4000, visit the Box Office at 261 Genesee Street (M-F 10a-4p) or log on to: thestanley.org or ticketmaster.com.

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The history of the Delta Lake Inn structure itself is a bit uncertain, but it is undeniable that this classic establishment has been a valued and trusted member of the Mohawk Valley for many years. It has served several purposes over the last century, but for the past 9 years, it has established itself as one of the finest eateries in Central New York. For a stretch, the building lied dormant before a group of business partners resurrected it and helped it reach its potential. Among them was Holland Patent natives, Donald Lynskey, Paul Keesler, Mike Lynskey, who manages the day to day operations of the restaurant and banquet facility, and Bruce Daniels of New Hartford. One of Delta Lake Inn’s defining characteristics is its lengthy, varied and savory history. According to legend and research conducted by the restaurant staff, the building was constructed in 1903 and used to house the men building Delta Dam, under the name Delta Dam Hotel. Local folklore states that after the Dam was completed, the building was used as a stage coach station until the late 1910s-early 1920s. At that time, the owners had successfully converted the structure into a speakeasy until the days of the Great Depression. It has been said that during the Depression it served as a house of ill repute. The Delta Lake Inn reopened as a restaurant in the 1950s and continued under various operations until the end of the century, when its doors closed. For nine long years, the building sat empty before its current owners decided to revive the old structure. Experience in the restaurant industry would be key to its success, and having held various restaurant management positions around the country, Mike Lynskey had the expertise to face that challenge. In 2009, Mike and his partners purchased The Delta Lake Inn and performed a complete renovation of the building from front to back. Included in the enhancement of the facility was the addition of a deck and the conversion of a dilapidated shed into a beautiful tiki bar. After seven months of work, the restaurant was finally ready to be reopened and has since then been embraced by the local people and folks from outside the area alike. Once again, The Delta Lake Inn visitors were able to soak in a front row seat of Delta Dam while enjoying selections from their enticing menu. From a food standpoint, Delta Lake Inn is known for a variety of dishes starting with their hand-cut choice steaks. Their culinary team offers everything from tenderloin medallions to grilled sirloin, Delmonico steak and tender filet mignon. On the sea food menu, they are known for serving their signature homemade crab cakes, crab-stuffed shrimp, jumbo lobster tail and daily specials. In addition to those items, the menu also offers numerous sandwiches, pasta and chicken entrees, soups and salads. Whether you are stopping in to enjoy lunch or dinner, visitors can start off with one of many appetizers such as crab-stuffed mushrooms, Cajun-fried eggs or Italian greens and then top off your meal with a selection from the delicious desserts that are offered. Nothing finishes a meal better than enjoying some homemade award-winning White Chocolate Bread Pudding. The tapas (small plates) selections offered include options such as bourbon beef filet bruschetta, wasabi salmon and jumbo crab-stuffed shrimp. Of course, there is a long list of wine, beer and various other cocktails to choose from to pair with your meal. Lunch buffets are offered throughout the week and a champagne brunch is held every Sunday from 11AM to 2PM. With so many great eating venues in one area, it is important that a restaurant maintains distinctive qualities - that has never been a challenge for Delta Lake Inn. It allows its guests to enjoy three of the Mohawk Valley’s most celebrated attributes; rich history, nature’s beauty and delicious food. Looking from the back deck out on to the powerful yet tranquil Delta Dam is a view like none other. Inside the restaurant, the warm Adirondack ambiance and welcoming service sets the tone for a special meal, banquet, celebration or wedding. Combine that ambiance with warm, professional service, delicious food and a team of dedicated employees and you have The Delta Lake Inn. For more information on Delta Lake Inn, log on to deltalakeinn.com, call 315-533-7710 or visit the restaurant at 8524 Fish Hatchery Road in Rome.

30 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - February 2018


Up

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Ellis Henry Roberts

Treasurer of the United States of America by Dominick Velardi

As I have stated many times in the past, it is great when people from our area achieve national recognition due to their hard work. I am sure, like myself, many of you when hearing of a such a person, want to read or learn more about them. Ellis Roberts is one of many examples of a child who lost a parent at a very early age and was required “step it up” if they desired to fulfill their life’s dream. Born in Utica, New York on September 30th, 1827, Ellis was the son of Watkin and Gwen (Williams) Roberts. Watkin migrated to America from Bala Lake, North Wales in 1814 and his wife joined him two years later with their three children. Ellis was the seventh-born of eight children and the youngest of the four boys in the Roberts family. 1819 was a time when boats were traveling to and from Utica and Rome as the rest of the Erie Canal was still a work in progress. It was also a time when masons like Watkin were

Whitestown Seminary School - Courtesy of the Whitesboro Historical Society

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in demand to build some of the earliest structures in our area. Watkin died in 1831 when Ellis was only four years old, leaving Gwen to care for their eight children on her own. Since there were no laws prohibiting youths from working, once the eldest children were capable, they pitched in to help their mother raise the family. At four years old, Ellis started school and at the age of nine he took a job working with his brother Robert at William’s print shop in Utica. When Mr. William Williams retired, Robert bought the business and Ellis learned to be a typesetter. At the age of twelve, Ellis attended night school while he proofread and typeset for his brother in the day time hours. During the presidential campaign of 1840, Ellis printed a weekly paper supporting the Whig party and candidates Harrison and Tyler; this would be the beginning of his interest in the newspaper business and politics. Ellis prepared for his admission into college by attending the Whitestown Seminary School and entered as a Sophomore at Yale. During the summer months while on break from college, he worked at the Oneida Morning Herald, a Utica newspaper that was established by his brother Robert and Richard U. Sherman. At Yale, Ellis was elected editor of the Yale Literary Magazine, and in 1850, he graduated second in his class. Also in 1850, Ellis was chosen by the board of trustees to be principal at the Utica Free Academy. From the time Ellis completed college, he began reporting, editing and typesetting for the Herald. One of his worst experiences as a reporter was having to witness the hanging of convicted arsonist Horace B. Conklin (an up and coming story) in Whitestown; at one time, Conklin attended Sunday school with Ellis when they were children. Three major events happened in Ellis’ life in 1851; in May, Ellis married Elizabeth Morris of Utica, NY who was also born to Welsh parents. That same year, he also took ownership of the Oneida Morning Herald (later to be known as The Utica Morning Herald) and left all his other positions to dedicate his efforts to the newspaper. Also in 1851, The New York, Albany and Buffalo telegraph was completed. With the use of the telegraph, news could be shared quickly across the state, and as a result, the State Associated Press was organized with Ellis H. Roberts elected as its first Secretary and Treasurer. Ellis’ Herald competed well against The Daily Gazette and the Utica Daily Observer; the other popular newspapers of


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our area. In 1857, The Utica Gazette, the first daily paper printed in Utica with exception of the Morning News, was purchased and merged with the Herald. After the merger, the name of the combined newspapers would be known as The Utica Morning Herald and Daily Gazette with Ellis continuing as its editor and substantial owner. Ellis acted as campaign speaker for Winfield Scott, a United States general who had an unsuccessful run as a presidential candidate for the Whig Party in 1852. The Herald continued to voice its opinions in politics and Ellis was called on many occasions to speak on behalf of the Republican Party. Ellis would speak out about what he believed in and gained recognition for being critical in an article against Daniel Webster’s famous speech on compromise. In his presidential campaign, the Herald voiced its opinions in favor of Abraham Lincoln and on its support of the war and the Union. As editor, Ellis made his service available to promote enlistments for the Union. He also made it known that he welcomed the Emancipation Proclamation and supported a Union without slavery. With the fall of Fort Sumter and the Disaster of Bull Run, the Herald was delivered by riders as far out as Mohawk, Herkimer and Otsego County. In 1866, against his wishes, Ellis was elected to the assembly under the Republican Party. Ellis was also appointed to the Ways and Means Committee (New York State). In addition, he was chosen as a delegate to the national convention for Lincoln as well as those held in 1864 and 1868. In 1868 it was

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President Benjamin Harrison Ellis’ choice to support General Grant for the nomination for the President of the United States. In 1869, Ellis received both from Yale and Hamilton Colleges, an honorary LLD (honorary doctorate). Aside from the many number of positions Ellis held, the honor of serving in the Treasury was the highlight of his career. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Ellis Roberts, whom he knew well, to Assistant Treasurer of the United States; a position that was confirmed by the senate on the same day. In 1890, the Utica Morning Herald plant was sold to the Utica Herald Publishing Company (a firm in which Ellis also had some financial interest). He would serve as the Assistant Treasurer of the United States for the next four years until mid-1897. On July 1, 1897, Ellis Henry Roberts was appointed by President William McKinley as the 20th Treasurer of the United States of America. Ellis continued as Treasurer during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration until 1905. In that same year, President Roosevelt appointed Ellis as a member of the board of examiners of the United States Mint. In that position, he was chosen as the chairman of that board by his associates. Upon his retirement from the Treasury Department, Ellis returned to Utica, NY to live. In his time, Ellis was chosen to make many speeches at colleges of high regard and special events. Some local speeches included; the dedication of the monument of General Steuben and the centennial of the Battle of Oriskany. Ellis was also the author of two books, Government Revenue, Especially the American System (1884) and The Planting and Growth of the Empire State (1887). On July 20, 1902, Ellis’ wife Elizabeth died in Washington DC. after a history of ill health. On January, 13, 1918, Ellis Henry Roberts died at the residence of his niece Mrs. Edward Bushinger on Kemble Street. He died of natural causes at 90 years old.


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President William McKinley

I promise you that all the information presented in this article are only the highlights of Ellis H. Roberts’ life and his accomplishments far exceed the ones included in this story. It is quite admirable that a boy who started his career at nine years old in the printing business would go on the be an owner of a well-respected newspaper. Not to mention the fact that he was a

graduate from Yale who was well known by at least three Presidents of the United States; Presidents that had the respect and trust in Ellis to appoint him as Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer of the United States. Although it is no longer in circulation, it is amazing to think that someone from our area’s signature was once on President Theodore Roosevelt our nation’s currency. His appointment to the board of examiners of the United States Mint, where he was elected as their chairman, only adds to an already impressive resume. For me, the best part of his story is that he was from our own backyard in Greater Utica. You can find the final resting place for Ellis Henry Roberts at Forest Hill Cemetery. Or as I like to call it: Up on the Hill.

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Chasing the Burn By Brad Velardi When assessing one’s talent, we often wonder how the individual developed their set of skills. The question frequently asked is, “How much of their talent is a product of hard work, and how much is simply God-given ability?” But there is a certain underlying factor that goes ignored in this puzzling equation; something that cannot be identified by an observer of the finished product. That factor is: a person’s desire to be great. In sports circles it is referred to as “the will to win”, in harsher terms it is characterized as “a killer instinct”. Out of all the forms of expression used to describe this intangible quality, my favorite has been coined by a successful Utica native, and one of the subjects of this story, as “the burn”. We have all, at some point in our lives, felt this burn; whether it was our love for another person or a simple object that commands our focus. When that same level of passion is directed at a skill or career, the possibilities are endless, and success becomes a certainty. The discussion about this “burn” brings about another question, “Is it inherited genetically or acquired through life experience?” The logical answer is that it’s probably a combination of both, but when speaking with people like those in the Wormworth family, I tend to believe that genetics play a larger role. When you are born with their level of passion and talent, and find an outlet to express it through, magic occurs. While the roots of the Wormworth family’s music legacy lye in the soils of Utica, their abilities have touched the minds and souls of people across the globe. Their achievements have come as a result of simply following their hearts and letting the rest take care of itself. I was fortunate enough to speak with three members of this humble and proud family. Joe Wormworth On the 900 block of Bleecker Street in the early-1940s, Joe Wormworth lived with his mother, Ann, his older brother Jimmy and several other family members. Joe’s father, James, was a respected jazz drummer and pianist in the local area who played with several famous musicians such as Billie Holiday. Although Joe’s mother had no musical background personally, her brother Dick Mariani, who despite being a blind man, was a very

36 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - February 2018

talented saxophonist. Dick had played with and impressed artists by the likes of Perry Cuomo in his day. Needless to say, music was a significant part of Joe’s upbringing from an early age but not something he yet considered a way of life. At about age 13, Joe’s brother Jimmy, who also played the drums, convinced Joe to join him in the Utica Boys Drum Corps. With the Utica Boys, Joe would perform in 30-35 local parades per year and it was a nice introduction into the world of music. “I enjoyed playing and learning the basics, but I didn’t really grasp exactly what I was doing.” Said Joe. “It was when I saw that senior drum corps show in Rome that it all changed for me.” He was just 16 years-old but Joe’s life would never be the same after seeing his first competitive drum corps show in Rome. He had been drumming with the Utica Boys for a few years but the concept of competing had never crossed his mind until this point. Joe immediately went back to his corps director and began trying to convince him to convert the Utica Boys into a com-

Above: Joe judging a Canadian drum corps.

petitive corps. The director explained to Joe that it wouldn’t be possible given the resources they had at the time, but told him if he were able to come up with the leadership, funding and instructors necessary, they would make the switch. Joe went off and found a group of individuals who could help form a competitive drum


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corps, and with the support of American Legion Post 229, the Magnificent Yankees were formed. Before long, Joe became consumed by drum corps. “I got a tremendous burn for drum corps.” Said Joe. “I didn’t play sports or anything like that because it conflicted with drum corps and that’s all I wanted to do.” Throughout the night while the rest of the family was sleeping, Joe would listen to drum corps records over and over. He began learning routines phonetically as he had no formal training, but nothing would stop him on his journey to perfection. As a drummer and instructor of the Magnificent Yankees, Joe helped set the standard of greatness that would make the corps nationally-renown. “I had a passion for it. I couldn’t stand mediocrity, so I pushed the kids hard.” Says Joe. He used the same standard when teaching himself and other corps moving forward. After leaving the Utica Boys Drum Corps, Joe became a drummer in the Utica Blackhawks senior drum corps. Developing a strong reputation, Joe was asked to play with and subsequently instruct the Syracuse Brigadiers who were one of the finest senior drum corps in the state and the country. At this point, things began to get very serious for Joe and “got the ball

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rolling.” “I started teaching and writing drum music while playing for various drum corps.” Said Joe. “I also became a judge of percussion at corps competitions held all over and taught locally at Peat’s Music House.” He continued. “At my peak, I was doing something

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Some of his students became massively successful individuals in the music industry. One of his students, Jay Wanamaker (a Greater Utica native), went on to lead the percussion section at the University of Southern California and became The McDonald’s All-American Marching Band Percussion Director. He then became Executive VP of Guitar Center followed by a position as Senior VP of sales at Fender. Wanamaker is the current President and CEO of Roland Corporation. Another one of Joe’s students, Mark Thurston is in charge of the World Indoor Percussion Organization, and has been a consultant for Zildjian Cymbals, one of the biggest cymbal manufacturers

with drumming or drum corps-related during 6 out of the 7 days in a week.” Along the way, Joe helped mold young men into tremendously capable drummers (many of whom are still in the area).

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in the world. Another one of Joe’s students, Matt Savage is one of the most respected individuals in the country in Above: Tracy and James standing outside NBC Stuterms of drum dios. At the time, they both worked for shows on the corps and has network. been quoted as saying, “We were lucky to be taught by one of my mentors to this day, Joe Wormworth. In upstate New York, Joe was and is still a legend in the drumming community.” Over time, Joe taught close to 50 marching organizations in Utica, Clinton, Frankfort, Syracuse, Saratoga, Atlanta, Georgia and other areas across New York State. He now lives in Pompey, NY with his wife Marianne, a former color guard instructor.

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Although Joe is retired today, his son, also named Joe, carries on the Wormworth name in the drum corps universe. Joe Jr. began his playing career at age 12 and has been a horn player for some of the top corps in the nation including: the Syracuse Brigadiers, The Magic of Orlando, the Rochester Patriots, the world-champion Allentown Cadets and the Santa Clara Vanguard. Today, Joe Jr. is an instructor like his dad and has coached championship-caliber teams of his own. Joe recalls often his days of playing and instructing; I wondered as I spoke to him, “How did this man maintain his level of commitment and success?” The answer was simple: “It was all from the love of music and not wanting to be mediocre.” Said Joe. “It takes a lot of discipline, but when you got the burn for something, the dedication is there automatically.” Tracy and James Wormworth “Chips off the old block” as they say, would be Joe’s niece and nephew, Tracy and James Wormworth. Tracy and James are the children of Joe’s brother, Jimmy, who has been an immensely successful jazz drummer for over 60 years in the business. From the time they were born, Tracy and James were immersed in the New York City jazz scene of the 1960s and 1970s. Born and raised in Brooklyn, the brother-sister tandem accompanied their father to countless gigs in the city, across the states and even Canada. Their mother, Sarah, was not a formally trained musician but her and Jimmy’s extensive record collection exposed Tracy and James to countless genres of music and the family would always sing together in the house. While the entire family had some level of interest in music, James was the first of the children to dedicate himself to learning an instrument. He was obviously inspired greatly by his father’s success and admired the level of respect Jimmy had gained in jazz circles. During the summers of their youth, the Wormworth kids and their parents would travel to Utica to visit their father’s family. James explained to me that his motivation to play drums only grew stronger during those summer trips, where he would

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40 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - February 2018

Ringo Starr with James watch his Uncle Joe’s drum corps units. “I was impressed firstly, by the uniforms and the marching routines.” Said James. “It had not yet occurred to me how technically advanced and demanding what these people were pulling off was. Then, when people were marching and carrying large brass horns, and would just sometimes faint, my little mind was just blown away at the dedication that these people showed.” He continued. “When I started getting serious about playing the drum set, I would close all of the windows in our New York apartment and often practice for eight hours at a time without air conditioning. The drum corpsmen’s dedication resonated with me.” “It did not, however, resonate with the neighbors.” He added jokingly. For a 5-year period during their adolescent ages, Utica was more than just a place to visit in the summer for Tracy and James; it became their home. They moved with their mother to Utica, where they would both attend Columbus School and then Proctor High. These years were crucial in their lives, because as


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would play with them. I never turned down a thing.” Living back in New York (Queens to be exact), Tracy was somewhat of an anomaly at that time as it was quite rare to see a woman walking the streets of New York with an instrument on her back. The very first time she ever played a live gig was in a club with James, their sister Mary and a few family friends. The “euphoric” feeling that performing gave Tracy was all she needed to understand what her life’s purpose was. “That was the first time I experienced the high of playing music.” Said Tracy. “I’ve been chasing it ever since.”

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For most of those family gigs, James would transport the band from venue to venue in his “fairly beat” Chevy Nova. James had a lot more experience performing in front of an audience as he had taken part in musical productions for school and Jimmy would throw him some gigs he felt the youngster could handle. James bounced from band to band throughout his college days looking to earn his stripes in the music business. Sharing a name with his father would pay off inadvertently, and according to this humorous story he shared with me, it got him a huge break: “The great Erskine Hawkins, of ‘Tuxedo Junction’ fame called me to do a cruise across the Atlantic Ocean; an opportunity which I pounced on. We had to meet at JFK Airport to fly down to Florida to meet the ship. When I arrived, I recognized the guys and introduced myself. They all greeted me wide eyed and asked, ‘Damn Jimmy, what the heck are you doing to stay so young looking?!’ It was a real ‘Oops! moment. They had actually gotten my number from the Musician’s Union phonebook, thinking that it was my father’s. I asked them if they wanted me to see if I could get the Jimmy that they were expecting, but as I was already booked and standing in front of them, they gave me a shot. It went off without a hitch and I continued working with Erskine until his passing.” James’ name may have provided a unique opportunity, but his incredible talent and charisma earned him a brilliant career. After working with Erskine Hawkins, blues legend Johnny Copeland hired James to play with him on tour in 48 states and numerous countries across the world. Looking for a more stable, low-key lifestyle, James returned home after working with Copeland and got married. He began working a steadier schedule on the wedding/bar mitzvah circuit while searching for other projects that were more fulfilling. Meanwhile, as Tracy tried to get her music career off the ground, she worked for ABC Radio, writing up staff work schedules. Due to her late-night rehearsals and early morning work shifts, she was late for her job every day and decided to quit her 9 to 5. Playing small-time gigs wasn’t paying the bills and she had to find a way to sustain a living or be forced to give up her dream. In the nick of time, a stranger in the street had spotted Tracy and informed her about a band, The Waitresses, that was in need of a bass player. After a great audition for the band, she was hired on


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James making his entrance on the Conan O’Brien Show the spot and toured in Europe for the first time. Tracy’s tenure with The Waitresses would be the break she needed as that job led her to work with recording artist, Phyllis Hyman. In 1987, Tracy’s career was taken to the next plateau. Her boyfriend at the time, a keyboard player, had done some work with iconic British rocker, Sting, and recommended her for a position in his band. Sting called Tracy in for an audition and her skills on the bass earned her a spot on his world tour. “I was freaked out and really, really nervous!” she said. “I had never done the rock star thing; It was definitely another level.” The band’s first road gig was on Saturday Night Live on October 17th, 1987. From there, they performed in front of an audience of approximately 250,000 at Maracana Stadium in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. It took tremendous focus and a strong will to keep Tracy on track, but she was great. “We used to go places and military and police were getting us to and from the venue.” She said. “You have to keep your blinders on and not let it get to you.” After the tour with Sting concluded, Tracy was on to her next big venture. Platinum recording artists, The B-52s, were looking for a bass player to take with them on their world tour. At the time, the group was at the height of their popularity after the release of their hit song, “Love Shack”. Tracy auditioned for the band and earned her spot on the tour. After her first stint with B-52s, she auditioned to be the bass player for the “Rosie O’Donnell Show” house band; she would hold that position for a total of 6 years, playing with countless famous musicians. Around the same time Tracy started working for the “Rosie O’Donnell Show”, James earned himself a prominent gig as well. He became a member of the group that would become The Max Weinberg 7. When the group was chosen as the house band for Late Night with Conan O’Brien, James was forced to forfeit his role

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as drummer to Max Weinberg. During times when Weinberg was touring with Bruce Springsteen, James was asked to fill-in temporarily until the tour was over. When Conan was given The Tonight Clothing & Show job, James became a permanent member of the band, playing giftware for men, percussion. However, it was when the show moved from NBC to women, children & Meat Co., Inc. & infants! TBS that James returned to the seat he loved most. 732-5798 •732-2661 !"#$%&'()*"#+%,#-%+"./,0$%1(0% 722 Catherine St., Utica, NY 13501 2$#3%/(2$#3%&*"'-0$#%,#-%"#1,#)4% “After we transitioned from the Tonight Show to the new show, CONAN, we took the band back to the original configuraFabricators • Processors tion and the drum chair has been mine since. It’s been wonderful Wholesale & Retail Sales going to work every day with people that I love and laugh endlessly with. It’s hard to believe that it’s my ‘job’.” ///560"7",2,08#5&(2% Yes, after years of bouncing around the globe, James 9:%;$4)%<,06%=(/3%>'"#)(#3%?@%ABC5DCA5DAED% finally has the “job” he was destined for. He gets to regularly play 20 West Park Row Clinton, NY 315-853-3650 with incredible artists such as Slash from Guns N’ Roses and Jack www.kriziamartin.com White of the White Stripes. His favorite musicians to work with are the ones he plays with on a regular basis, his bandmates: Jimmy Vivino, Mike Merritt, Mark Pender, Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg, Est. 1989 Jerry Vivino and Scott Healy. They are Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band and can be found accompanying Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter on one of the highest-rated talk shows on television. His web site (TheJamesWormworth.com) is currently under develand fans will be able to follow his career and learn about Corporate & Leisure Travel opment projects he is involved with outside the show. At the end of The Full Service Transportation Company other the day, for James its all about the music. New Arrival 14 Passenger Mercedes Benz Sprinter “It’s just a part of me. Like a limb. Or waking up. It’s life to Call us today! me. ” He said. Our 2018 CSA Program 1003 Erie St. Utica As for Tracy, she continued her career by working with is Open for Sign-Ups! 5661 State Route 5 315-733-1827 other famous artists like Joan Osborne and choreographer Camille Herkimer, NY 315-866-2011 A. Brown. Today, she is back touring with the B-52s and is happier www.anotherjonesfamilyfarm.com/csa/ email us info@adonis-avanti.com • web: adonis-avanti.com than ever as she looks back on her career from a distance. “It sounds funny but, after all this time, I realized this is something that I’m kind of good at doing.” She said laughing. “So many artists are self-tortured, but there was finally one moment where I realized this is what I’m good at.” The Moral of the Story We specialize in Men's The characteristic I admire most about this family is not Haircuts & Custom Designs necessarily their musical talent; it is their loyalty to music and one another. When asking Joe how he felt about the Wormworth name, Mention or Bring in this Ad he said: Ad & Get $2 Off your Haircut!! “I’m obviously proud that so many in our family have done well, but also have maintained an intelligent approach to 8449 Seneca Turnpike, their music. That’s important to me. I guess proud would be the New Hartford, NY 8441 Seneca Turnpike ” Across from JayK Lumber New Hartford - www.bigapplemusic.com answer. The moral of this story is: find your passion and let it burn.

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Above: Joe Wormworth instructing the Corps Vets from Atlanta, GA


A Team that Binds us By Brad Velardi

Saturday January 8th, 2000 It was a brisk winter day in Central New York as I sat at the edge of my grandmaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s couch in North Utica with my eyes glued to the television. I was tuned into an ABC Sports telecast: at 10 years old, one of the most significant events of my young life was taking place at Adelphia Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee. The Buffalo Bills were taking on the Tennessee Titans in an AFC Wild Card playoff game and the suspense was all a kid like me could handle. Before the days of career building, romantic relationships and overall life responsibility, sports are the most important thing in the lives of many youths and I was no exception. I ate, breathed and slept NFL football from the time I was born; particularly Buffalo Bills football, so my heart was hanging in the balance during this tightly contested game. WARNING: All Buffalo Bills fans may want to turn the page at this point in the story as they could possibly experience flashbacks of a very traumatic event. However, this story does have a happy ending, so all are encouraged to stay tuned. It was late in the 4th quarter with the Titans leading Buffalo 15-13 when Bills quarterback, Rob Johnson, completed a pass (with one shoe on) to wide receiver Peerless Price. As Price escaped the defense and ducked out of bounds at the Tennessee 24-yard line, there were just 20 seconds remaining on the clock. The Bills were well within field goal range and so head coach Wade Phillips sent his veteran kicker, Steve Christie out for a 41-yard attempt. With great poise, Christie tacked on 3 points, putting Buffalo ahead 16-15 with just 16 seconds remaining in the game. Victory, at this point, was a certainty: or was it? As Christie lined up for the ensuing kickoff, Bills players and coaches stood celebrating on the sideline; I was doing a little dance of my own back in Utica. The kick was off, and it was a high lobber that was fielded at the Titansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 24-yard line by fullback Lorenzo Neal. As part of the designed kickoff return, Neal quickly handed off the ball to tight end Frank Wy-

Marv Levy and Brad Velardi check, who was running toward the right sideline. As the entire Bills kickoff team swayed toward the direction of Wycheck, the big man quickly turned to face the opposite sideline and delivered a picture-perfect lateral to wide receiver, Kevin Dyson. As Dyson turned forward and headed up the field, the only players in front of him were Titans teammates who proceeded to lead

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him into the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown. Just 3 seconds were left on the game clock by the end of the return and I was praying to see a penalty flag, but there was no such luck. The referee reviewed the play and the call stood as a touchdown; the game was over after the ensuing Bills return, and you would have thought my closest relative died based on my reaction. From that day forward, the play has been dubbed by the sports media as the “Music City Miracle”. I for one, refer to it as the “Music City Massacre”. Weeks later, when I was finally over the devastation of the loss, I said to myself, “We’ll be back next year.” Little did that naïve young boy know, it would be 18 long seasons before he would see his team compete in playoff football. Sunday December 31st, 2017 For the first time in over a decade, the Bills playoff hopes were still alive going into the final week of the regular season. All we needed was to beat the Miami Dolphins and hope for the Cincinnati Bengals to upset the Baltimore Ravens. I was sick as a dog with the flu as I watched the Bills game with my entire family during our annual New Years Eve celebration. The Bills were playing great and according to my ESPN phone app, which I was checking every half second, the Bengals were as well. Just as the Bills had sealed their victory, the Bengals fell behind the Ravens 27-24. CBS switched their broadcast from the Bills game over to Bengals-Ravens for the final Cincinnati drive. With less than a minute on the clock, on 4th and 12, Andy Dalton completed the game-winning touchdown to Tyler


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Boyd. Our living room, along with countless others across the nation, erupted as the Bills season was extended one more week. It had finally happened. We sailed through rocky rivers with great intentness and survived our descent into valleys so low, that at times, it felt as though peaks had no longer existed. We traveled bravely and triumphantly on our journey to meet a long-lost friend whom we once knew so well; its name: Playoffs. Perhaps I am being a bit dramatic, but for us Bills fans, this is a big deal! Saturday January 20th, 2018 I should have known it was meant to be this year: on Christmas day, less than a week before the final regular season game, I opened a gift from my mom. Inside of the wrapped box was a ticket to an autograph signing; legendary Bills coach Marv Levy was coming to Utica for a meet and greet at Hall of Frames Sports Collectibles. She also bought a ticket for my dad, who was the one that brainwashed me to be a Bills fan from birth. I knew that when that day came, January 20th, it was going to be special, and it did not disappoint. When my dad and I arrived, the line went out the front of the store, but we were happy to wait and meet a man we had watched on TV countless times together. It was an honor to meet Coach Levy, not only because he was a Hall of Fame head coach, but also for the fact that he is a Harvard graduate and World War II veteran who served our country with bravery. At 92 years-old, he was sharp as a tack and I got to ask him a couple football-related questions; I wondered what his Super Bowl prediction was, when I asked, he predictably answered with his signature wit, he said “It’s easy to pick a winner, it’s harder to actually be right.” He is a man I admire greatly for his wisdom, leadership qualities and incredible motivational skills. I believe it was Marv Levy himself who once uttered to his team the phrase, “When its too tough for them, its just right for us!” It’s a mantra to live by no matter what situation one is living through; it encapsulates the spirit of this year’s Bills team and the great ones of years past. For Bills fans, it is a way of life; although our postseason was short-lived, our team and our fans earned this opportunity and it is a time we will never forget or take for granted. Since my first-ever trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium nearly 7 years ago, my love for this team has been increased exponentially. My fandom has grown, not only because of the unparalleled atmosphere of live NFL football, but also because of similarities between the cities of Buffalo and Utica/Rome. From the first time I stepped foot into Buffalo, I fell in love with its people as I found them to share many characteristics with us in the Mohawk Valley. Among the values we share with them are, above all: pride in their hometown. Regardless of the negative connotations placed upon our respective cities by outsiders, we continue to rally together as patrons. Former UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, once wrote of the difference between reputation and character: reputation is how others view you, character is who you truly are. Both Buffalo and Greater Utica/ Rome are areas of outstanding character.

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February 2018  

This month we look into the history of Delta, the Whitesboro Historical Museum, the Wormworth family, Treasurer of the United States Ellis...

February 2018  

This month we look into the history of Delta, the Whitesboro Historical Museum, the Wormworth family, Treasurer of the United States Ellis...

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