Johnson Park Center holds annual back to school party

Original article from the Utica Observer Dispatch.

Alissa Scott

Posted Aug. 18, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Brothers Tyrease, Eric and Elijah Hervey raced through a math challenge Tuesday, counting on their fingers at times.
“All right, come on, guys, we’ve got to focus those brains for back to school,” said Deanna Cushman, a volunteer and resident of Johnson Park Center who told the small group of students, broken up into age groups above and below 9 years old.
It was Johnson Park’s annual Back to School and Say No to Drugs Party, which took place at the center from 5 to 9 p.m. Students of all ages — whether in preschool or returning to get their diploma equivalency — participated in educational, recreational, social and nutritional activities.
Close to 1,400 students were expected throughout the night, 1,000 of whom would receive a free bag of school supplies including notebooks, folders, a calculator, markers, crayons, glue and an eraser.
“We’ve been having fun all summer, making sure kids, adults and families are safe,” said center CEO the Rev. Maria Scates. “Now it’s time to refocus and think about going back to school.”
The center also had a Five Ways to Be Successful in School essay contest, a pogo stick competition and a track race.
Janique Rodgers, a member of the JPC Youth Voice Initiative, was recognized with her peers for having completed a summer phase of work experience.
They each shared their five reasons for staying drug free — something Rodgers says the students discuss regularly at Johnson Park.
“Well, I don’t want to get sick,” the 11-year-old said. “I want to get a good job. I want a good education. I want my sister to look up to me. And I don’t want my family mad at me.”
To learn more about the services the center offers, including shelter services and youth programs, contact the center at 734-9608.

MVCC Foundation’s thINCubator expected to move to ConMed site

Original article from the Utica Observer Dispatch.

Alexander Gerould

Posted Aug. 19, 2015 at 5:00 AM
Updated Aug 19, 2015 at 7:53 AM

Right now, the former ConMed complex in the area of 310 Broad St. sits empty. But that’s expected to change.
The Mohawk Valley Community College Foundation, which oversees the thINCubator at 106 Genesee St., is expected to move the incubator to an 8,400-square-foot portion of the complex at 326 Broad St., according to Frank DuRoss, the college’s director of institutional advancement.
“The thINCubator wants to stay in Bagg’s Square, wanted to be downtown as part of the whole economic ecosystem that we’re trying to help out,” he said. “So we wanted to do it downtown and that’s where we’re doing it.”
Initially funded and led by the foundation, the thINCubator, according to its website, aims drive innovation and entrepreneurship in collaboration with other educational institutions, existing entrepreneurs, support organizations, government agencies and the community.
The college’s masonry and carpentry programs, meanwhile, also are expected to take up 10,500 square feet of open warehouse space in the building at 316 Broad St., which connects the complex’s main building at 310 Broad St. with 326 Broad St., DuRoss said.
“The idea is MVCC is relocating the construction trades program that is currently in Rome,” he said. “The college would like to relocate it in Utica because there’s a great demand for trades people, especially hopefully with upcoming announcements there’s even more demand.”
The properties will be leased from an entity called Crane-Ballou LLC, of which Gary Thurston is the registered agent. Thurston is chairman and CEO of Syracuse-based Hayner Hoyt, a commercial construction company that is in the process of purchasing the ConMed property.
Attempts to contact Thurston were unsuccessful. But a city news release sent out in December said Hayner Hoyt plans to invest $4.5 million in revitalizing the building for mixed use, including 27 apartments, office space and manufacturing.
Brian Thomas, the city’s commissioner of urban and economic development, said in April that the property buyers were exercising their due diligence prior to closing on the property.
On Tuesday, Thomas said the buyers are expected to close on the property before the end of the week.
“My understanding is that renovation work is to begin later this year on 316 and 326 Broad St. with the renovation of the main brick building that will house the lofts to start in early 2016,” he said.
Crane-Ballou LLC has applied to the Oneida County Industrial Development Agency to enter into a transaction in which the agency will assist the company in the acquisition of the 316 and 326 Broad St. properties, according to a legal notice in Monday’s Observer-Dispatch.
The agency “contemplates that it will provide financial assistance to the company in the form of exemptions from sales and use taxes on materials and/or equipment used … in renovating (the properties), exemptions from mortgage recording taxes and abatement of real property taxes for a period of 10 years,” the notice stated.
A public hearing on the projects will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday in the legislative chambers on the 10th floor of the County Office Building at 800 Park Ave.
Other steps in the process include formalizing the lease agreement and renovations done inside both buildings, DuRoss said.
“Certainly it’s the goal of both the thINCubator and the trades to be in that location this fall,” he said. “They’re not going to be moving in, in a week or two, but certainly before January I would hope.”


The Women’s Fund is accepting grant applications

The Women’s Fund of Herkimer & Oneida Counties Inc. is accepting applications for its 2016 grant cycle. Grants are due by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, and must be mailed to The Women’s Fund of Herkimer and Oneida Counties Inc., attn: Grants Committee, 2 Williams St., Clinton, NY 13323.

To be eligible for funding consideration, applicants must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, submit a complete application, and the funding request must be for programs or projects that benefit women and girls.

The Women’s Fund supports programs in the local community that meet its mission of empowering women and inspiring girls while promoting leadership and building self-esteem. Gender and geographic location areas are the sole restrictions on those who may benefit. There is no minimum amount that must be requested.

For information, call 240-0282 or visit

Original article from the Utica Observer Dispatch posted August 14, 2015.

Libraries to offer laptop and hotspot lending programs

Starting in September, patrons at select libraries in Central New York will be able to take home laptop computers and 4G wireless hotspots for a period of three weeks. The program, called CNYFi, is sponsored by the Central New York Library Resources Council.

The pilot program will be circulating 30 Internet kits to library patrons. These kits include a hotspot that can connect up to nine devices to the Internet, along with a Chromebook computer.

The MidYork Library System will be offering 10 kits to patrons at the Jordanville Public Library in Jordanville. The program hopes to expand across the region in 2016.

Donations are sought to help support this pilot program. For information or to make a donation, visit

Original Article from the Utica Observer Dispatch. Posted August 14, 2015.

July 2015 Utica Safe Schools Summer Programs

Utica Safe Schools have a few free summer programs for youth this summer.
1) The Underground Café Teen Center is open this summer as a drop-in program for Utica High School Students.  Must be at least 13 years old to attend.  Program runs from 3-8pmTuesday – Saturdays.  There is a computer room, full gym, art room and game room.

2) STEM Program – 4-week STEM program for Utica City School District Students in 7th – 9th grade.  It will be an interactive hands on program with a few field trips to help make students excited about careers in STEM (transportation provided for field trips only).  The program runs from Monday – Thursdays from July 27 – August 20th from 9am-1pm.  Lunch is provided.  There is a program Flyer attached and application.  Each accepted student receives a full scholarship to attend.

3) ULI – Urban Leadership Institute is a week long leadership camp for Herkimer and Oneida County high school students.  The program runs Monday August 24th – Friday August 28th.  There is an application attached with more information.  All students accepted receive a full scholarship.  Lunch is provided.

For more information please see our website
or contact us at 792-2205 or

Free technology training at Utica Public Library – August

Computer classes and private technology training continues to be available free to the public through the summer at Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee St. Private tutoring is available by calling 735-2279, ext. 219.

Computer classes and drop-in sessions being offered in August are as follows: click here….

Summer Learning Day July 21

Again this year, join the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County, WCNY and iHeartMedia for a regional Summer Learning Day on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 from 12:00 noon to 2 pm in the Canyon Area at Destiny USA. The event will raise awareness about the importance of summer learning during Destiny USA’s ‘Tykes Tuesday’ summer family programming. Click here for more…. Click here for map….

Robotics Mini-Camp at Herkimer College

The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome will sponsor a children’s Robotics Camp at Herkimer College from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday, July 13 through Thursday, July 16.

The camp is open to participants ages 10-13 and will feature hands-on lessons in programming mobile robots, various types of sensors, applying measurement & geometry to calculate robot navigation, experimental process and experiment documentation using LEGO Mindstorm Robotic kits.

The cost is $29 per camper.

Registration can be completed online, by phone, mail or in person. For more information or to register by phone, call the Community Education Office at 866-0300, ext. 8251.

Rome Summer Day Camps

Registration is underway for Rome Art And Community Center’s Artletics summer day camp for youth ages 5 to 10. The program runs Mondays through Thursdays, starting June 29 and continuing through Aug. 20.

Artletics will cover fine arts to help children develop artistic skills, athletics to teach campers how to be team players while getting healthy and fit, and drama to help campers build selfesteem and social skills.

Tuition is $135 per week for nonmembers and $100 per week for RACC members.

After-Camp Art Studio sessions also are available from 3 to 5 p.m.

Discounts given for multichild registrations. Tuition grants are available for lowto moderate-income families in the city of Rome.

For information or to register, call 336-1040 or email

Parkway Center seeks volunteers

The Parkway Center is seeking volunteers for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program to assist with non-emergency medical transportation, a program where volunteer drivers bring seniors to non-emergency medical appointments.
The center also is seeking RSVP volunteers for the Bill Payer Program to assist at risk seniors with their finances.
Both programs provide seniors in Oneida County with the tools they need to remain independent. As an RSVP volunteer, you will receive supplemental accident and liability insurance, mileage reimbursement and more.
For information, call 223-3973.