Welcome to The Squeaky Pen

...where life is slow, and ripe with rural treasures

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SSIRP Breaks Ground

Senator James Seward, Sherburne Town Supervisor Charles Mastro, and Sherburne Mayor Bill Acee joined SSIRP board members and representatives of Rich & Gardner Construction Company on July 13 for a groundbreaking ceremony at The Sherburne Inn. Senator Seward congratulated SSIRP on what he called "a great day for Sherburne," adding that The Inn is not only at the physical center of the community, but at its emotional and social center as well. "The Sherburne Inn represents Sherburne's history," he said, "and its future."
Pictured here, left to right: Mark Becht of Rich & Gardner Construction; Kathleen Yasas, SSIRP president; Kristina Rodriguez, SSIRP board member; Steve Perrin, SSIRP vice president and project manager; Chris Hoffman, SSIRP treasurer; Senator Seward; Charles Mastro; SSIRP board member Vince Yacono; Bill Acee; and Mike Gardner, of Rich & Gardner Construction.

Monday, June 22, 2015

SSIRP Hires General Contractor, Construction to Begin

1915-1916, Downtown Sherburne, post Sherburne House Fire and pre Sherburne Inn
Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project, Inc. (SSIRP) announced this week that Rich & Gardner Construction Company of Syracuse has been hired as the general contractor for Phase 1 restoration of The Sherburne Inn, which will include exterior work on the 98-year-old building. Work is expected to begin within 30 days and will include brick pointing and general masonry, window restoration, porch deck and porch roof work, trim painting, and column restoration.
Rich & Gardner, which counts among its employees Sherburne-area residents, was one of several companies that submitted bids. Bids were opened and reviewed at The Sherburne Inn on May 20.
Conceptualized as an economic driver for Sherburne and the surrounding area, SSIRP plans to reopen The Inn with sleeping rooms, event space, conference space, a farm-to-table restaurant and bar, a tavern, retail space, and office space. Temporary and permanent part- and full-time jobs will be created both during restoration and after The Inn has been reopened.
For more information on The Sherburne Inn and SSIRP, visit www.thesherburneinn.org.
SSIRP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations to SSIRP are deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Spring Symphony

I think it was sometime around the first of April when I caught myself wondering why in god's name I ever moved back to upstate New York. It was early, around 7 a.m., and I'd gotten up to let the dog out. When I went into the kitchen and looked out the window, I burst out crying. It was snowing again.

I like snow, I do. In fact, people who know me would probably call me a snow person if their options were 1) she loves the beach; 2) it can't be sunny enough; 3) the hotter the better; 4) snow person. Still, everyone has their breaking point. So yeah, I've been wondering what dark moment it was that I decided to head north, knowing the weather situation up here in the winter. Two months of snow is perfect. Three is okay. Four, you're pushing it. Six? Time to call U-Hall.

Then yesterday I took a drive.

It's the end of May, a whisper from June, and it was One Of Those Days. Sunny yes, but so much more. 75 degrees and low humidity. Puffy clouds drifting. Green lawns, green trees, green fields -- that splendid not-dark green of spring that's maybe got a week of life left. Miles of pink flowers chasing each other in meadows, geometric shapes flanked by yellow blossoms. The smell in the air? Freshly-mown grass and a final whiff of lilac. Men on tractors, kids' smiling faces, canine ears flapping out of car windows.

And a tiny voice in my head said, "oh. that's why."

What's that old saying? I'd rather have two minutes of something wonderful than a lifetime of nothing in particular. That one was written for upstate New York weather. Such days around here don't come often and they don't stay long; but if you can catch them, if you're lucky enough to be outside paying attention, days like yesterday are one of maybe four all year, those that usher in summer and fall and winter and spring; 24 hours four days a year when Nature says come look at me. Come see what I can do.

Such days (okay, maybe they're worth the wait) ... a spectacular symphony for the senses.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hello Day 67!

I decided to quit smoking in January. Well, decided may be the wrong word for it. I didn't really think about it, it wasn't like I sat around writing up a list of pros and cons and, seeing that the pro side was vastly less populated than the con side, announced "That's it! I shall stop smoking!"

What actually happened was I was sitting in my home office with all the doors closed so the smoke wouldn't get into the rest of the house when it occurred to me that I was just done. I'd been spending way too much time lately burning scented candles and spraying air freshener because the smoke smell was bothering me more than usual. I was smoking around a pack a day and doing so was bugging me. It's expensive ($10+ a pack here in New York State), it stinks up the house, it stinks up my clothes, it stinks up my hair, and ... oh yes, let's not forget this little detail ... it's deadly. The only good thing about smoking for me was the fun factor. I liked it. Or at least, I did like it. All of a sudden the fun factor was getting its ass kicked by all the negatives. All of a sudden, smoking wasn't so much fun anymore.

So I stopped. There in my office I was puffing away when I said out loud, "Oh man, this is just disgusting." I mashed the cigarette out, threw the rest of the pack away, emptied every ashtray in the house, washed them, and packed them away in a cabinet. I've been a smoker, on and off, since the early 1980s, but always insisted to people that I wasn't addicted. The response to that pronouncement was almost always the same: "Yeah, right." Everybody assumed it was the addict in me talking when I said I wasn't physically hooked, but I really wasn't. I was socially hooked in a big way. Loved to smoke when on the phone, or in the car, or after a meal. Sitting down with a friend for a chat and a glass of wine? Out came the cigarettes. Cup of coffee? Oh yes, cigarette required. I was never one for going outside in the freezing cold to huddle against a building for a puff (that's not to say I never did it, but I never liked it and for the most part preferred not smoking to standing around like a delinquent in some alleyway). So on January 9, 2015, around 6 o'clock at night, with no fanfare and with ten or so cigarettes still left in the pack, I just quit.

I have to say it has not been hard. There were a few times when I got this "saliva feeling" in my throat that I think was a physical reaction to wanting to smoke. And yes, there was the altercation I had with the TV remote after I dropped it on the floor. The remote stopped working and I flipped out, screamed and cussed and pounded it on my desk 12 times, then threw it across the room. I know I pounded 12 times because there are now 12 tiny holes in the wood where the little nub on the back of remote punched into my desk top. (Ironically, the remote just needed new batteries.)
On the good side? The house and my clothes and my hair smell wonderful, the very tiny cough I once had is gone, and I wake up every morning without the fuzzy and nagging thought "gottaquit gottaquit gottaquit." Then there's the money! Sixty-seven days (as of today) equals $670. By the end of one year, if indeed I had smoked a pack a day and taking into consideration that I infrequently bought cartons, I will have saved $3,650, much of which I plan to plug into my Maine summer vacation. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call a win-win!
What made me stop? Who knows. Sometimes you just hit the wall with things: bad habits, bad choices, bad people. Sometimes you just say "I've had enough" and walk away, feeling so much better -- on every level -- that you did.
So I'm taking a deep breath (an easier thing to do now), enjoying Day 67, and looking forward to Day 68 ... and to all the good smoke-free days to come.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Sherburne Native Invents Temporary Wall System, Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Jim Hoefler, formerly of Sherburne and a graduate of SECS (’73), has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital that will help him bring his latest invention – XoomRooms (pronounced “ZoomRooms”) – to market. XoomRooms is a portable, temporary wall and storage system Hoefler has been working on for the last three years. Kickstarter is a social media site that allows inventors, entrepreneurs, and community activists an opportunity to raise capital for their ventures on the web. You can view Jim’s XoomRooms web site and see a link to his Kickstarter campaign here: http://XoomRooms.com

“Kickstarter is a little bit like the television show ‘Shark Tank’” Hoefler explains, “except you make your pitch on the web, anyone can contribute in any amount desired, and the contribution is a donation rather than an investment.”

The campaign will run for 30 days, from January 20 to February 19, 2015. Jim, son of Sherburne native and current resident Katie Hoefler, started working on XoomRooms in 2012 after helping his daughters create a temporary bedroom to sublet in their Washington, DC, apartment. The temporary walls he created worked fine, and his daughters successfully sublet the bedroom he created for them, but the walls were difficult to assemble and were not able to be reused when his daughters moved. 

So Hoefler set out to create a wall system that would be easy to set up and durable enough to be reused in other locations.  "There was nothing on the market that could make creating temporary spaces like this in your home possible” he recalls, “and while my walls served their purpose, I wanted to create something that any Do-It-Yourselfer could use. XoomRooms seems to fit the bill perfectly!” 

Several XoomRooms prototypes are already up and working well in Sherburne, and in his current home town of Carlisle, PA.  “Now it’s time to scale up production capacity so I can bring the product to the masses,” Jim says. “That’s what the Kickstarter campaign is all about."

“Take a look and see what I’ve been up to,” Hoefler says.  “Even if you don’t contribute, if you like what you see, it’s really important that you share the Kickstarter link with all your friends!”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Merry Christmas to a Remarkable Town

Two really important things happened for The Sherburne Inn in the past couple of weeks. On December 4th we (finally) got the signed contract from New York State for the 2013 grant. What this means in a nutshell is that we can (finally) begin work on the building. It was a long 358 days from the time of the announcement that we got a $500,000 grant to the actual signing of the contract, but the day (finally) came. The grant process is an arduous one, with lots of waiting and paperwork and late nights and government red tape and so on. In the end though, it's worthwhile, and we are tremendously grateful to New York State. Last year the state said they believed in the project, and said so with a promise of major funding. On December 4th they made good on that promise.
To clarify, that we got the contract signed doesn't mean hammers will be heard pounding at the Inn anytime soon. There are other steps to take, bid packages to get approved, planning sessions to be held, and many decisions to be made. Still, things are moving forward. Finally.
The second big thing to happen was that on December 11th New York State granted us yet another half million dollar economic development grant for the project. For those who are counting, that's a million dollars SSIRP is getting from the State of New York to restore and reopen The Sherburne Inn, a million dollars awarded in 12 months to the day. We don't know how long it'll take for the contract on the new grant to be signed, but that's okay. The first half million will get us started on the exterior of the building, and by the time the second contract is signed we'll be just about ready to move to restoration inside. More funds need to be raised, of course, and we'll be launching a corporate fundraising campaign in the spring. SSIRP anticipates that corporate money will start to flow now that we have New York State as our primary project funder.  
Like I said, it's been a long year during which patience has begun to fray, for those of us on the SSIRP board and most certainly for people in our community who have been wondering what's going on as they pass by the building and see no progress. We knew from the beginning this would be a step-by-step process, and while we've been waiting for the state to untangle its red tape we've been laying the foundation to transition this historic building from a dark shell to a thriving hub. Rest assured that every board member of SSIRP -- along with the wonderful volunteers who have come forward to lend a hand -- are dedicated to bringing back The Sherburne Inn. There have been so many volunteers that it's impossible to name them all, but you know who you are, and SSIRP is and will be eternally indebted. This project in late 2012 began with a handful of voices. Today those voices are a choir, and they are everywhere. 
This Christmas, I speak for the entire SSIRP board of directors in extending thanks to everyone in Sherburne, in surrounding communities, and those from far away who have supported us (with particular thanks to the Howard K. Finch Memorial Foundation and The INN-SIDERS). The individual donations, large and small, have brought us to where we are today, celebrating the state grants that will launch this project forward. Without the checks that have arrived by mail over the past two years we would not have been able to continue. Thank you for supporting our fundraising events, for pressing twenty dollar bills into board members' hands, for buying (and selling) INN-SIDERS' books, for touring the Inn to see for yourself the building we love, and for sending letters and emails of encouragement. This is a special town, one I'm glad and proud to call home.
To everyone who has been so generous of time, money, and spirit -- Merry Christmas! It is because of you that we are on our way!!
Oh yes, and mark your calendars for summer 2017 -- no promises yet, but we're shooting for a grand opening on the Inn's 100th birthday!


About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum