News + Views

Volleyball is Staats’ Love


Slater's Slant







By Chuck Slater



There is no doubt that the area’s best volleyball player is Panas’ senior hitter Yvette Burcescu, chosen the state Player of the Year as a junior last January. And Diane Swertfager, the tremendously successful Hen Hud volleyball coach, is equally certain the second best is her own senior hitter, Zoe Staats. “She’s definitely second best,” the coach who has won three state championships said. “And she’s my captain. And she jumps. Boy, does she jump. She has that God-given ability in her vertical jump,” Swertfager said. “Combine that with her speed and she plays like she is 6 feet, 5 inches — not 5 feet, 11 inches. She even started for me as a freshman. It’s rare for a freshman to make the Hen Hud varsity, much less start.”

Zoe Staats plays her sport year-round. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DENISE STAATS)

And a young freshman. Now as a senior, Staats does not turn 17 until late September. After Staats suffered a late-season leg injury last year, Hen Hud lost to Panas in the sectional semifinals. Now she is fully healthy again and better than ever after an eventful summer of volleyball success.

Staats played at the GEVA (Garden Empire Volleyball Association) camp this summer then helped win a national title on the GEVA all-star team. In the competition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Staats’ squad upset a favored Florida group in the semifinals then whipped a Pennsylvania team in the final. “I played a lot of right side but also all around,” she reports. The right side is just right for her — “Because I’m left-handed.” And she got one more thing over the summer: A new serve, even though her old one was pretty devastating. “It’s a topspin serve,” she said. “They insisted I use it and it was very, very effective.”

According to her dad Otto, his daughter was an all-around athlete when young — then she met volleyball. “She’s always got a volleyball in her hands,” said her mother, Denise Staats. “It’s what she loves.” “For me it’s volleyball all year round,” Staats agrees.

Staats was seven when she was introduced to the sport at one of the Swertfager’s clinics. Soon, her mom signed her up and she was playing club volleyball for the Downstate Juniors in Peekskill; playing it and loving it. “I like everything about it; I like all the skills,” said Staats. “Passing, serving, retrieving, hitting.” She masters them so well she already has a volleyball scholarship to Rhode Island to continue playing in college.

As part of her year-round volleyball dedication, Statts also plays for the Downstate club. One of her teammates: Yvette Burcescu. Wow!

August 16, 2017 |

Back-to-School Medical Musts


To Your Health







(Family Features) It’s the time of year when school supply lists, new shoes and first-day photos are on every parent’s checklist. Back-to-school season is also the time when pre-teens should receive the tetanus-diphtheria-acelluar pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, the HPV vaccine and meningococcal vaccines to get the best protection from serious, sometimes deadly, diseases.

Protecting Your Child

In the United States, approximately 30,000 cancers caused by HPV are diagnosed each year. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by infection with high-risk types of HPV. The virus also has been linked to five other types of cancer.

It is estimated that 79 million Americans are currently infected and that there are 14 million new HPV infections each year. Many people who are infected will never know it. However, there is a safe and effective tool to prevent this cancer burden – the HPV vaccine.

Cancer Prevention

The HPV vaccine prevents the nine types of HPV that cause 90 percent of all cervical cancers and pre-cancers, as well as most cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and throat. It also helps prevent infection by the two types of HPV that cause most genital warts. However, the vaccine works only if given well before an infection occurs. That’s why, in part, the American Cancer Society recommends that boys and girls get the vaccine at ages 11-12 to achieve the best immune response and most complete coverage against cancer-causing strains of HPV.

Despite the power of the HPV vaccination to prevent cancers caused by HPV, in 2015, only 28 percent of boys and 42 percent of girls completed the series. Many boys and girls in the United States are not getting the HPV vaccine and are missing the protection it could provide.

More than 200 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been distributed worldwide, with more than 80 million doses in the U.S. Safety monitoring of the vaccine in 80 countries has revealed that most side effects were mild and similar to those seen with any other vaccine.

For more information, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit

Bark For Life of DeKalb County, Blackburn Park, Atlanta, GA, June 9, 2012

HPV 101

  • HPV is short for human papilloma virus.
  • HPV’s are a large group of related viruses, each of which is given a number called an HPV type.
  • Most HPV types cause warts on skin of the arms, chests, hands and feet.
  • Genital HPV types are found on mucous membranes, such as the vagina, anus, mouth and throat, rather than on skin.
  • Cancers linked to HPV infection include: cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, mouth and throat.
  • HPV is common. Most men and women who have ever had sex will get HPV at some point in their lives, but in most cases it goes away without treatment.
  • There is no treatment for HPV, but there are treatments for the cell changes that HPV can cause.
  • Most HPV infections that lead to cancer can be prevented with vaccines, and most cervical cancers can be prevented with regular screenings.

HPV Vaccine Facts and Fears

As a way to help protect children from getting cancer as they get older, the American Cancer Society recommends HPV vaccines as a safe and effective practice. However, there are myths and rumors surrounding the potentially life-saving vaccine.

The vaccine is safe.

While it may make some people dizzy and nauseated following injection, the vaccine rarely causes bad side effects. Instead, there may be common side effects like pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given.

The vaccine doesn’t cause fertility problems.

Research shows that HPV vaccines don’t cause fertility problems, and can actually help protect women from future fertility problems linked to cervical cancer.

The vaccine doesn’t contain harmful ingredients.

Some parents may worry about the presence of aluminum in the vaccine, but it’s a safe amount. Vaccines containing aluminum have been in use for years and used on more than 1 billion people.

The vaccine is for males and females.

While cervical cancer is one of the main cancers caused by HPV, the HPV vaccine is for both males and females. There are also cancers found in men that can be caused by HPV, including cancers of the anus, penis, throat and tongue.

Ages for Vaccination

To increase the chances of successful vaccination, the American Cancer Society recommends the following:

  • Routine HPV vaccination for girls and boys should start at ages 11-12. The vaccination series can be started as early as age 9.
  • HPV vaccination is also recommended for females 13-26 years old and males 13-21 years old who have not started the vaccines, or who have started but not completed the series. Males 22-26 years old may also be vaccinated. However, it is important for people 22-26 years old who have not started the vaccines or completed the series to know that the vaccination at older ages can be less effective in lowering cancer risk.
  • HPV vaccination is also recommended through age 26 for men who have sex with men and for people with weakened immune systems (including people with HIV), if they have not previously been vaccinated.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (doctor and patient)



August 16, 2017 |

Celebrating Grandparents All Year Long

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat








By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Mark September 10th as National Grandparents Day, created to honor our grandparents for all the fond memories or wonderful things they have done for us over the years. It was back in 1978 that President Jimmy Carter made this proclamation as a national secular holiday to honor this wonderful generation—our grandparents. The proclamation declared “The elders of each family have the responsibility for setting the moral tone for the family and for passing on the traditional values of our nation to their children and grandchildren. They bore the hardships and made the sacrifices that produced much of the progress and comfort we enjoy today. In fact, Grandparents Day is also officially recognized in a number of countries on various days of the year, either as a single holiday or sometimes as a separate Grandmothers Day and Grandfathers Day.

Many of us had scores of delightful years spent in the company of either one or both grandparents, bringing warm feelings back to our hearts. I was fortunate to have both grandmothers in my life until I was in my late teens and visits to their homes were always enjoyable. One grandmother had a country home and I often spent an entire week at her house, without my parents. She made the most delicious scrambled eggs, using a glass frying pan that I only saw in her kitchen. In the evenings we’d listen to her favorite programs on her wooden Philco radio while she did her “mending” and I colored. The Jack Benny Program, December Bride, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, and a host of other popular series were tuned in regularly. My grandmother taught me how to embroider, starting out with simple cross stitches on a piece of remnant material until I was old enough to master more complicated designs.

My children had similar wonderful experiences with their grandparents. Fortunate to have both sets of grandparents with us for a long time, they enjoyed cooking or baking lessons from both grandmothers and sleepovers year-round. It was either at the country home of one set of grandparents or the beach house of the others. These years are captured both in memory and a collection of photographs and home movies.

If you are blessed to still have a grandparent, visit if you have not been there in a while. Often our lives get so busy we rarely have time to call. Pick up the phone, write a note and let your grandparents know you love them and think they are special!





August 16, 2017 |

Easy Eating


In Good Taste







(Family Features) Warmer weather has arrived and that means it’s salad season.

There are many seasonal salads to enjoy and everyone has a favorite. Change your warm-weather dining habits up a bit with this recipe for Ruby Beet Chicken Salad Skewers. Easy to prepare, this deliciously unique salad on a skewer is perfect for entertaining family and friends.

The sweet-tangy, nutty, piquant and savory combination of ingredients provides layers of flavors in every forkful. One-bite Aunt Nellie’s Baby Whole Pickled Beets are just right for skewering with the mustard-marmalade glazed chicken and crisp romaine.

To finish, drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with toasted almonds and cheese. Add a whole grain baguette and your meal is ready. For more warm-weather recipe ideas, visit

Ruby Beet Chicken Salad Skewers

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 8

1         jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Baby Whole Pickled Beets, drained

2         large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)

salt, to taste, plus 1/2 teaspoon, divided

pepper, to taste, plus 1/2 teaspoon, divided

4 1/2   tablespoons stone ground mustard, divided

1 1/2    tablespoons orange marmalade, plus 1/3 cup, divided

2           tablespoons minced fresh chives

1            large lemon, zested and juiced (about 1/3 cup juice)

1/4        cup olive oil

1            bag (9 ounces) leafy romaine pieces

8            wooden skewers

1/3         cup chopped almonds, toasted

1/3         cup crumbled firm white cheese (such as blue cheese, feta or goat)

Heat oven to 375 F. Drain beets; set aside.

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. In small bowl, combine 1 1/2 tablespoons each of mustard and marmalade. Brush mixture over chicken until completely coated. Bake chicken on aluminum foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, 20-25 minutes, or until juices run clear; set aside.

To make vinaigrette: In medium bowl, combine remaining mustard, remaining marmalade, chives, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Slowly pour in oil while whisking vigorously until completely combined.

Slice cooled chicken into 1-inch pieces. On each skewer, thread a beet, a piece of chicken and 4- 5 pieces of lettuce; repeat twice; add one beet at end. Repeat to make eight skewers. Place skewers on large serving platter. Stir vinaigrette; drizzle lightly over skewers. Sprinkle with almonds and cheese. Serve with remaining vinaigrette.

Substitution: Whole pickled beets may be substituted. Cut beets in half.

Alternate preparation: To grill chicken, brush both sides with mustard-marmalade mixture. Grill over medium heat 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through and thermometer reads 165 F. If chicken cooks too quickly, reduce heat to medium-low.

Nutritional information per serving: 255 calories; 15 g protein; 20 g carbohydrates; 12 g total fat; 440 mg sodium; 40 mg cholesterol; 2 g dietary fiber; 1 mg iron; .07 mg thiamin; 2,871 IU vitamin A; 7 mg vitamin C.




August 16, 2017 |

Demand or Command Economy



ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich




The trouble with transition models is that if you don’t have enough propulsion to get you to the new model while you’re leaving the old, you could fall into the abyss. Habits die hard, so when the transition is from “brick and mortar” models such as manufacturing to digital media and channels, the tendency is to circle the wagons to protect the last vestiges of the old—revenue you can count on—and snap up the new when it appears, as though sushi on a conveyor belt. All this while holding less and less inventory.

Historically, we’ve relied on the balance between production and consumption to fulfill market demand. You build it, hold it in inventory, promote it, and then pick it off the shelf for delivery. Like most exchange models this one too is based on confidence. But things have changed; consumers have turned into “simplifiers,” more in search of what they need than what they want—and for good reason.

The current economic malaise has left us with low employment, negative consumer credit leading to increased savings rates—each percentage point representing roughly $500 billion in spending—and increased debt, a gray cloud that chokes the enterprise from endeavor. Together, they have reduced the energy for consumption by over $1 trillion. Such coping mechanisms are habit forming—behavior that is hardest to form and hardest to break. In 2009 people were forced to examine their means; they have now learned to choose to live below it, a habit government might benefit from. Deficit spending is a well-endowed short-term catalyst to growth, a shot in the arm—at least history would confirm, our current recovery model in point. Long-term measures target the foundations of monetary and fiscal policy, things like paring expenses until funds meet the demand for them. To be clear, supply must grow to meet demand, and not the other way around.

But with demand so low, what must we build or imagine that might shake consumers into an exchange of goods for money? Perhaps, it is no less than products so embryonic that the need for them is yet undefined. Auto repair done at one’s home or office, framing parties (aka Tupperware) that get all those photos and prints tastefully on the wall and out of the attic, bicycle clubs for the unfit everyman riding rental equipment, the return of home delivery trucks that bring us organic everything like milk in a bottle, etc. Defining such markets is fundamental economics—see need before desire. Simplifiers are like that!

The Command Economy

The obverse side of demand is command, as in controlled—the centralized control of all means of production and attendant resources that provide birth-to-death products, services, and support of all things deemed “necessary to the common good,” at least by the controlling entity. When feeling angry over one’s state of disenfranchisement, voting alignment with those who promise to ease your burden (by giving you your due) touches the deepest pain in people—the desire to be “as good as” another—something psychologists agree comes by a realistic self-assessment and personal achievement. It is not something one can give to another. We will not find what we are looking for if we don’t venture out to seek it.

Such Hobbesian conflation proves dependency a greater influence on poverty than one’s birth circumstances. Its purpose intact; a command economy educates, equips, and produces only that which sustains itself—the natural law of survival. It equivocates need and want, a system that exorcises diversity. As such, freedom to choose may become the defining anachronism of the American way. Luckily, it is still our choice.



August 11, 2017 |

Byrne Sponsored Bill Banning Electronic Cigarettes on School Campuses Receives Governor’s Signature


Legislation will significantly reduce youth exposure to tobacco products

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,I,Ref-Mahopac) announced that on July 25, 2017 Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation (A.611/S.750) that immediately banned the use of electronic cigarettes on all public and private school grounds in New York. Byrne is a co-sponsor of the Assembly bill introduced by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, and also previously worked for the American Heart Association as a regional director.

“Regardless of your opinion on tobacco products vs. e-cigarettes, everyone can agree that e-cigarettes have no place on school grounds,” said Assemblyman Kevin Byrne. “I am proud to be a prime co-sponsor of this legislation, and I thank the governor for signing this legislation into law.”

By diminishing access on school grounds, this legislation will bolster New York’s ability to prevent childhood and teenage access to addictive products hazardous to their health. Nicotine is typically found in e-cigarettes, vaping pens and similar electronic systems. Exposure to nicotine as a child can lead to addiction and be harmful to the brain.

“E-cigarettes have no place in our schools. This is a common-sense measure that has been a long time coming,” said Sen. Terrence Murphy, who voted in favor of the bill on the Senate floor. “Adolescents whose bodies and minds are still developing should not be tempted to experiment with e-cigarettes, particularly while they are in school. This legislation can prevent a generation of teens from being saddled with serious health problems.”

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said, “I appreciate Assemblyman Byrne taking action, by co-sponsoring this bill, to limit the exposure future generations have to nicotine-related products while at school.”

Dr. Michael Nesheiwat, the Putnam County Commissioner of Health, added, “This legislation will increase the protections our children have from becoming addicted to nicotine products. And I think we can all agree that our school grounds should be a safe and healthy environment for our children.”

In March, the governor’s office released a survey by the New York State Department of Health, which found that e-cigarette use by high school students nearly doubled in the last two years from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 20.6 percent in 2016. Additionally, a recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report revealed the number of high school students using e-cigarettes soared 900 percent between 2011 and 2015, becoming the most commonly used form of nicotine among youths.

August 10, 2017 |
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