April 13, 2012

It’s been a while since we have had a full column posted. To our readers we apologize and explain that the Half-Shire columns for the past five years were brought up as evidence in a political ethics investigation. The Half-Shire President, Shawn Doyle, who also serves as an Oswego County Legislator was cleared of all charges. While that was going on we felt it was wise to not write as mention of Margaret Kastler (Half-Shire Trustee as well as Legislator) and Doyle in our columns were highlighted and investigated for various reasons still unclear to us. We appreciate the overwhelming support offered to the Society during this unfortunate period that kept our two officers in limbo.

Now back to our news: The fund drive to raise money for the handicapped accessibility project last fall was an overwhelming success! Over $15,000 was raised, combined with $7,000 from the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust which brought in enough to order a very good platform lift and to completely renovate the entryway and staircase going into our main hall. Due to construction we had to cancel our March meeting, and will resume normal activities on Saturday April 21st with a regular noon lunch meeting. The public is welcome to join us, please drop us a line or call Shawn at 298-3620 so we can plan for the right number.

The renovations, like those in any old home went farther and cost more than we initially planned. Once the entry floor was removed we found that years of moisture buildup had rotted the trusses to the floor as well as the men’s restroom and upper staircase. Everything has been supported with treated lumber where it was not rebuilt. The upper staircase was not rebuilt as this would be at least another $6,000, however it is now fully supported and when the time comes to rebuild it we can remove the old without interfering with the new hardwood floor or finished sheetrock that abuts it.

The lower staircase has been completely rebuilt with ash flooring. As we write Dave Jewell is preparing to sand and finish the stairs as well as the entryway floor. Cliff Hilton, Sr. has had charge of the construction work which has included finishing of all sheetrock in the entry as well as up to the second floor. Updates to the west wall of the main hall and a new double entryway also have added new light and access. Repairs were made to some recent work that was damaged by a faulty drain last year also.

We are hoping for a good crowd on the 21st to present the completed work, while a grand reopening concert is also planned for Saturday May 12, from 7-11 p.m. On that night we have booked “Still Kickin” the popular Camden area band featuring members of the Trudell family. This concert is rescheduled from a planned date last November, and is funded by a grant from a grant received from New York State Decentralization, through the Cultural Resources Council.

Recent genealogy work in progress includes work on the Reynolds, Stewart and Hilton families of northern Oswego County. We have added data from the George Widrig files as well as other collections to computerize these family trees. These and 1,000s of other trees from one page to three volumes are available for public research during our open hours. We welcome corrections and additional data.

Half-Shire will begin our season of open hours on Thursday April 19. We will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon till 4 through the spring. We anticipate extending the hours during the warmer months.

Half-Shire can be reached at halfshire@hotmail.com or www.halfshire.com. Our physical address is P.O. 73, 1100 County Rte. 48, Richland, NY 13144 and our phone is 315-298-2986.

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