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January/February 2009
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Susquehanna Group

Electronic Newsletters

To be friendlier to the environment, we deliver our newsletters, in both html and pdf format, via our web site,  We also mail paper newsletters with our "Year in Review" articles, and those describing candidates in our elections, to all members.  If you would like to have all newsletters mailed, please contact Jack Davis at 570-553-2081 or


Year in Review – 2008
Lynda Spickard Award
Members far from Binghamton: We Want You!
Sierra Club Websites
Sierra Club 2009 Calendars
Membership Application


Everyone interested is welcome at all Sierra Club activities, whether or not a member (except for Executive Committee meetings).

General Meetings: These are held at 7:30 pm on the third Tuesday of each month, except July and August. They are held at Central United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott, NY (it is on Route 26 - from Route 17, follow 26 n. to Endicott, w. on E. Main, n. on Nanticoke). The public is welcome and refreshments are served following the meeting. Call Jack Davis, 570-553-2081, or Scott Lauffer, 341-3746 or for further information.

Tuesday, Jan. 20
Lynda Spickard Environmental Award presented to Ginny Oggins
Potluck Dinner- 6:30 PM: Bring a dish to pass and your own place setting. Coffee and tea will be provided. As usual, we encourage locally grown food, vegetarian or organic dishes. A recipe or description of your dish will be helpful.
Presentation- 7:30 PM: Followed by a musical offering by Lee and Julian Shepherd and Presentation on the SEQR Process in New York.
Burrell Montz, Chair of the Binghamton University Geography Department, will speak on the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process. Burrell teaches this in a course offered by the department. Thanks to New York’s SEQR, organizations and citizens can submit comments on proposed actions by the state that could have negative impacts on the environment. This is particularly important for tonight’s meeting as we recognize Ginnie Oggins’ participatory work in this process. It is also relevant to the process the state is currently undergoing in reviewing the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for natural gas drilling with the Marcellus Shale formation.

Tuesday, Feb. 17
Guy Caroselli- "Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Upgrades for Low-income Families in Broome and Tioga Counties"
While people have become increasingly aware of the need to make improvements in energy efficiency in the home, not everyone can afford to make those upgrades. There are resources available for assistance, however. Guy Caroselli, director of Energy Services at Tioga Opportunities, Inc., will speak about the options available to low-income residents in Broome and Tioga Counties. Tioga Opportunities, Inc.'s Energy Services Dept offers two distinct programs: the Weatherization Assistance Program administered through DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal) and EmPower NY administered through NYSERDA (New York Research and Development Authority). Services offered by this program include weatherization for eligible single families and for multiple families through eligible landlords, and cost-effective home electric reduction measures, such as lighting and refrigeration replacements, insulation and draft reduction measures. Mr. Caroselli will also talk about what average homeowners can do to reduce energy consumption and increase the energy efficiency of their homes.
For more information:

Sierra Events: These are heldseveral times per year (see Activities note above). "In order to participate on one of the Sierra Club's outings, you will need to sign a liability waiver. If you would like to read a copy of the waiver prior to the outing, please see or call 415-977-5630. In the interests of facilitating the logistics of some outings, it is customary that participants make carpooling arrangements. The Sierra Club does not have insurance for carpooling arrangements and assumes no liability for them. Carpooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the participants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel."

Executive Committee Meetings are (usually) held on the Tuesday before each General Meeting at 7:30 pm (0210, 0310).

Year in Review– 2008

The Susquehanna Group had a busy and rewarding 2008. We participated in Broome County events as we traditionally do: Southern Tier Earth Fest and the Riverbank Cleanup. Both events were successful as the level of participation and enthusiasm indicated a resurgence of interest in the environment. At our ten monthly meetings we explored a wide range of environmental and special interest topics, shared three ever popular and delicious potluck dinners, and hosted four outings. There were many successes and a few not-so-successful efforts. We maintain a positive presence in the community and continue to take opportunities to speak out on local issues.

The highlights of the year include:

  • The Lynda Spickard Environmental Award which was awarded in January to Alan and Barb Jones for their outstanding efforts to preserve the IBM Glen, now protected by a conservation easement and owned by the Waterman Conservation Education Center
  • A Sustainability Roundtable which served as a catalyst to the formation of the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (BRSC).
  • Addressing the Marcellus Shale natural gas rush that swept into our area. We played a key role working with the Atlantic Chapter in calling for a state review before high-volume hydrofracing gas drilling is allowed to commence. We co-sponsored a forum in Binghamton entitled “Making Sure We Get it Right: Health, Land, Law and Natural Gas Production”. Attendance was somewhat disappointing but our presenters were outstanding and the impact was valuable; the presentations and video can be seen at
  • Walkin Jim Stoltz presented his “Forever Wild” concert and slide show to benefit the Glen. The special efforts of Barb Jones and Sally Guydosh of Waterman resulted in excellent attendance. We collected almost $2,000 which was split between Walkin Jim and the Waterman Center for maintenance costs in the Glen.

We are grateful to the following people who presented at our meetings:

Alan and Barb Jones on the IBM Glen;

Debra Smith on Recycling in Broome County;

Andrew Phillips, Chris Burger, Kevin Mathers, Jon Yerger, Dick Andrus and Amelia LoDolce for the Sustainability Roundtable;

Susan McIntyre on the Delaware County Composting Facility;

Barbara Watson on weather patterns in our region;

Rich Hurley on the Water Sentinels program;

Laura Intscher hosted us on a tour of her straw bale house;

Chris Burger on the Natural Gas Play;

Michael and Karen Crisafulli on Pueblo Culture in New Mexico; and

Linda Spielman on wildlife tracking.

Two areas of concern that need to be stated:
  1. We currently do not have a full slate of Executive Committee members. We thank Rich Kellman for stepping up to take a position on the Ex-com, but we are still short two members. Without enough volunteers, we are challenged to offer our membership vibrant programs and to continue as a voice on important local issues. Participation in running the Susquehanna Group provides a chance to be part of a rewarding effort that can make a difference in your own life as well as that of the community.
  2. Although we appeared to be absent in local elections this year, we did much behind-the-scenes work in preparing state and county level questionnaires and attempted to distribute them to candidates. Special thanks go to Erin Riddle and Julian Shepherd. There was only one local contested NYS Assembly race, and we received no response from either candidate. We also did not get cooperation from one of the local political parties in obtaining email addresses of their candidates for county offices. Failing to get email addresses and lacking time to do a mailing, we opted to forgo sending the questionnaire. Endorsements of candidates is an important function of the Sierra Club and one we feel that serves the public interest, and we hope to be able to do this for future elections.

Apart from those already mentioned, special thanks go to the following volunteers:

Erin Riddle, Vice Chair, who occasionally filled in for the Chair. Erin also does a myriad of other things, including keeping our web site updated, maintaining our listservs, and activism and education on agriculture and farms, promotes local farming, hosts film series, and in general is willing to take on anything thrown her way.

Julian Shepherd, Conservation Chair and our local naturalist. Julian leads local outings to natural areas and can be looked to for sound leadership on conservation issues. Julian organized our participation in Earth Fest this year and he and his wife Lee graciously play their cello and violin at our January meeting as well as for various Waterman events.

Fiske Hanson, Secretary. Fiske also conceptualized and organized the Sustainability Roundtable and is very active in local sustainability efforts, helped at Earth Fest and is engaged with local possibilities in green energy and green jobs. She is full of energy and ideas.

Vivian Stevens, Treasurer. Besides making sure we are solvent, Vivian also offers her home for our monthly Ex-com meetings and faithfully brings snacks to our monthly general meetings. She orders calendars for us and is one of the biggest boosters for our local group.

Jack Davis, Membership Chair. Jack does much behind the scenes work for us, maintains our membership list, and prints labels. He also procures the church for our meetings and special events, and faithfully designs and printers flyers for our events. This past year he and his wife Judy arranged for the church to acquire an AED and Jack has been certified to use it, so now we are all safer at our meetings! Among many other things, Jack is our ever reliable technical trouble shooter.

Dave Ketchum, Newsletter Editor. Dave has been serving as our newsletter editor for 15 straight years and deserves our thanks and is due for a rest! Dave has also served as a good sounding board and conscience for the Ex-com; he will be hard to replace and will be greatly missed. Best wishes to you Dave as you continue to pursue your lifelong passion as a student and observer of the important issues of the day.
Also noted for their enthusiastic and important contributions over the course of the last year were

Helena Garan for leading our participation in the Riverbank Cleanup (again);

Deanna France and Barb Garges for helping at Earth Fest;

Jeff Bohner for representing us on the Atlantic Chapter Ex-Com;

Cindy Westerman for helping with the Nominating Committee and the Lynda Spickard Awards;

Kathy Cronin for being the Outings Leader and Editor-at-large; and

Colleen Wolpert for gathering information on green books for local library systems.

Local issues of continued importance:

  • Marcellus Shale natural gas production – can it be done safely?
  • Recycling – continual challenges to its success.
  • Solid Waste Plan – how this affects the Broome County landfill and other landfills in the state and what we should be doing to promote Zero Waste.
  • Endicott Spill and other area cleanup efforts – especially with challenges to state resources the health and safety of residents will need to be fought for.
  • Green energy and green jobs for our area – this is the future we need to work towards.
  • Local food and a sustainable local economy – the need for sufficient supplies of local food will grow, support for farmers markets and CSAs will be important.
Submitted by Scott Lauffer


The Susquehanna Group of the Sierra Club is presenting its fifth annual Lynda Spickard Award to Virginia Oggins. The award is presented each year by the Susquehanna group of the Sierra Club to a local person who has made an outstanding contribution to preserving the environment.
Virginia (Ginny) Oggins was involved in environmental work in Broome County since at least the early 1970s until 1999. She was a founding member of the Town of Vestal Conservation Commission (CAC) and served for over 15 years as the CAC representative to the Broome County Environmental Management Council (EMC).

Ginny was active in all aspects of conservation from open space protection to toxic clean up. She served as a member of the EMC recycling task force which got recycling implemented for the first time in Broome County in the 1980s. She was a longtime chair of the EMC’s Landfill/Solid Waste Committee. Her scientific knowledge of landfills was extensive for a non-professional. She also was a good go-between for the citizens who lived near the landfill and County government. Ginny was very active in the movement to prevent an incinerator project in the County and attended many meetings and co-wrote many position papers on the subject.

As a CAC member, Mrs. Oggins helped work on the 1973 Vestal Open Space Inventory which is still the only such inventory available in the County. She was a driving force in protecting the Town’s wells and drinking water. There were at least three federal superfund sites in the Town of Vestal during Ginny’s tenure and her ability to read and understand the reports about these sites was outstanding. She also did a fair and professional job of reviewing Environmental Impact Statements for proposed projects in the Town. Not only did Ginny write comments herself, but she also edited other members' comments and coordinated CAC reviews of the Town Square Mall, Parkway Plaza, and another Wilmorite proposed mall which was never developed. In addition, she reviewed and commented on countless shorter environmental assessment forms and other documents, such as zoning change requests and proposed Town environmental laws.

The Town of Vestal has suffered severe erosion problems along its creeks which are used as storm sewers for runoff in the Town. The CAC has long been active in trying to alleviate this erosion in order to help residents who live along the creeks and have suffered property loss from it. Fuller Hollow Creek has been the biggest problem. Ginny worked tirelessly with affected residents to try to get the Town to do more to protect them. She was the primary author of at least 3 major position papers the CAC produced on problems in the Fuller Hollow Creek watershed during the 1980s and ‘90s. In addition, Binghamton University students were commissioned at different times to write scientific reports on four different Town creeks for the CAC and Town Board. Ginny served as the principal interface between the students and the Town Board for these projects.
Mrs. Oggins served as chair of the CAC at various times during her tenure on the Commission. She was always ready to step in and take over when no one else would do such a time consuming job. She contributed tirelessly to discussions on many topics at the EMC and testified at several hearings on local environmental issues conducted by agencies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). She also served as an informal consultant on many environmental problems by just answering phone calls from her Vestal home.

The last issue I discussed with Ginny several years ago involved the proposed bridge from Endwell to Vestal. She had already retired due to health reasons but was full of information on the environmental impact of such a bridge, including how the wetlands would have been destroyed and problems with bringing in soil for fill.

Although she may not have been in the limelight on any particular issue, no one contributed more on a daily basis to Broome County environmental protection in the past 35 years than Virginia Oggins. Hence she richly deserves the Lynda Spickard award.

Cindy Westerman

Members far from Binghamton: We Want You!

Would you like to have environmental issues beyond Broome County take more prominence in the work of the Susquehanna group?Would you like to see more events in your community? Are you concerned about an environmental issue in your backyard? Would you like to meet other Sierra Club members, go on hikes, watch films, or work to protect the air, water and soil in your community? This is your opportunity! We are looking for members outside the Binghamton area that would like to get more involved in issues that are most relevant to their immediate communities. For more information, contact Erin Riddle at 607-372-5503 or

Sierra Club Websites
Each of these provides links to the other two:
Atlantic Chapter (NY State):
Susquehanna Group (NY Southern Tier - Binghamton - area):
Dave Ketchum, Newsletter Editor

Sierra Club 2009 Calendars
(our prices remain tax inc.):
Wilderness - list $12.95, our price $12.00. All the grandeur of the North American Wilderness.
Engagement - List $13.95, our price $13.00. Stunning images of Flora and Fauna.
Call Viv Stevens, 748-9865, to get your calendars, Proceeds support your local Sierra Club group.

Officers (2008)
Group Chair: Scott Lauffer, 341-3746,
Vice Chair: Erin Riddle, 372-5503,
Secretary: Fiske D. Hanson, 772-1236,
Treasurer: Vivian Stevens, 748-9865
Chapter ExCom Rep: Jeff Bohner, 772-8304,
Conservation: Julian Shepherd, 722-9327,
Cool Cities Coordinator: Erin Riddle, 372-5503,
Education: Harry Barnes, 829-5307,
Fundraising: Vivian Stevens, 748-9865
Membership: Jack Davis, 570-553-2081,
Media/Publicity: Gaynelle Gauvin, 729-8306,
Newsletter Editor:Dave Ketchum, 687-5026,
Outing: Kathy Cronin, 757-0736,
Population: Harry Barnes, 829-5307,
Wetlands/Clean Water: Cindy Westerman, 748-9792,

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Contributions, gifts and dues to the Sierra Club are not tax deductible; they support our effective,citizen-based advocacy and lobbying efforts. Your dues include $7.50 for your subscription to Sierra Magazine and $1 for your Chapter newsletter.

Hardcopy printed by Susquehanna Printers, Owego, NY

This page last updated January 16, 2009