Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas 2010 Mailing

December 1, 2010

Dear Supporter,

As I was going through my pile of mail the other day, I was reminded of how many organizations ask for monetary support. I thought about how people decide which organizations they will support with their hard earned money. I looked at my own giving and was reassured that most of my contributions go to my local church and to organizations that I know help children and families who are in need, such as the Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, the Food Bank, and others. I also give to a number of organizations with a mission I agree with, such as Ducks Unlimited--increasing wildlife habitat, and Rails to Trails--converting old railroad right of ways into trails for public use such as bike riding, running and walking. I enjoy duck hunting with my wife and two labs, and thus, I know firsthand the need for maintaining wetland habitats which are home to so much of our wildlife. Likewise, my wife and I traveled on a week-long bike ride with Rails to Trails and enjoyed riding on some of the beautiful rail trails. Still, I sometimes find it tough to determine which organization to support. During these difficult financial times I am extremely grateful for you folks, who continue to support our Police Center Programs. I am well aware that there are more choices than funds when it comes to your money. Thank you for making us one of your choices.

I know I cannot adequately explain the importance of helping families during the holiday season. I think Charles Dickens did a good job in his portrayal of Mr. Scrooge. We don’t need to be frightened by ghosts to recognize our responsibility to give some of what we have to others who are truly--and sometimes desperately--in need. But I do believe we sometimes need to take an honest look at what we have, compared to those who have nothing. As a Police Officer, I am constantly reminded of poverty and the families who are affected by it. I have been called into homes where a bed in a child’s bedroom is not a piece of furniture but a wad of blankets on the floor. There are no curio cabinets, fine dining room tables, or artwork on the walls. The bathtub is the washing machine. The cupboards and refrigerators are bare. At times it seems hard to believe that families live like this in the U.S., but they do. At times, it is frustrating to watch celebrities pump millions of dollars towards making people’s lives better in other countries when we have so many families in need right here in our own country. That doesn’t mean that those countries don’t need or deserve it, because they do. It simply means we have a lot of work to do for families in our own communities--families that many people don’t even acknowledge exist. This Holiday Season I would ask that, rather than look away from the poverty around us, we look for the people affected by it. They are here in our midst. They may be in our middle class neighborhoods, but they are here. We see them but often look right past them. Many we do not see because their transportation is their feet, which means they buy their food at the closest corner store, not the big supermarkets where we shop. They eat at home or soup kitchens, not in the nice restaurants we are accustomed to. They shop for their clothes at thrift stores and only after wearing out their current clothing. From time to time we have to stop and take a genuinely honest look at what we have, compared to those who have nothing. I, for one, know that I am blessed. I have a job, a roof over my head, a big queen size bed, plenty of food in the cupboards and the refrigerator. God has richly blessed me, and I have a responsibility to share some of what I have with others.

I encourage you to take at look at how blessed you are and spend this holiday season sharing your blessings with others. Locally there are many great organizations that serve needy families who could benefit from your support. This year I challenge you to give both your time and your money. It’s easy to give our money; it’s much more difficult to give ourselves. Take that extra step and get yourself and your family involved. Imagine the fun you could have with your family and some friends by dressing up in costumes and ringing a bell for the Salvation Army. Volunteer to serve food at the Rescue Mission or stock shelves at the Food Bank. Come help us with the preparations for our Children’s Christmas Party. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with any number of worthy agencies. Please don’t let this year pass without getting involved.

Our Children’s Christmas Party is always our biggest event of the year. Each year we serve almost 1,000 children. It’s not only the gift for each child that is needed. We also need wrapping paper, name tags (self-stick), tape, snacks, drinks, coffee, cups, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, trash bags, ink cartridges, and photo paper for photos w/Santa (Polaroid film is no longer easily available).

The Christmas Party is planned for Thursday, December 23rd, from 2:00pm-7:00pm. We need numerous volunteers for various jobs on the day of the event as well as prior to the event. On two separate evenings (the weekdays before the party) we will be bringing gifts to Senior Centers to be wrapped--one night from 6:00pm-9:00pm at Salina School Apts., and another night 6:00pm-9:00pm at Franklin Square Apts. Volunteers are needed both nights. Also, if you have children who would like to help before the event, I need help picking out the gifts. We usually do this over several evenings once we begin receiving toys. On the day of the party, volunteers are needed to sign children in, serve food, wrap gifts, take photos w/ Santa, print photos w/ Santa, give out gifts, manage trash receptacles, and answer phones. If I know in advance the number of volunteers I have coming for the party, I am able to break the day down in shifts and offer volunteers the opportunity to rotate assignments. Please call me if you would like to volunteer.

As the cold weather arrives, we see an increase in the number of homeless folks who stop by the Police Center to pick up clothing. Anyone who has some used clothing, coats, hats, or gloves, and would like to drop them off, I am sure they will be useful for these families. I am once again searching for a pair of size 13 boots for someone in need. A good warm, insulated, rubber-type boot that can stand up to wet and snow would be best.

I have been making notes of families who sign up for the party that I believe could use a little extra help. It’s sometimes heart wrenching to see some of these families. We will do what we can for them. For anyone who wants to add some canned goods to their donations, we will use them for food baskets to help these families.

Donations of any of the items listed above or monetary donations to help us purchase the items will help make the Christmas Party possible. I would like to thank you for your continued support of the Police Center Programs. You make a tremendous difference in the lives of the families we serve.

Wishing you a safe and happy Holiday Season,

Officer Clarke

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Wedding September 25, 2010

God has blessed me in a multitude of ways. On September 25th I tied the knot with my lovely bride Renee. I am not sure why it is sometimes called "tying the knot," but I did it anyways. Many of you know Renee from her volunteer work at the Police Center. If you drop by the Police Center, it is likely you will find her answering the phone, assisting someone, or preparing for our next event. I rely heavily on her for all of the Police Center operations. To say "I couldn't do it without her" is an understatement.

In the photo, we are outside the First Congregational Church in Brier Hill (Renee, Mom, my daughter Makenna and I). My sister is holding a blanket (I think it might be from one of the Clint Eastwood cowboy movies) that she just pulled off of my mother. Due to Mom's health, she was dressed in a housecoat (she looked worse in the blanket). She would swat me with the fly-swatter for posting this one. I may look a little better than her this time (unlike the fishing photos). At this time, Mom was very sick, but she still made it to our wedding. I was blessed to have her there. We just put up a 42'x60' pole barn at my camp on Black Lake. It was there that we held our reception, finishing our evening around a campfire with family and friends.

My past five months have been very busy and emotionally draining. I will attempt to get refocused on our blog and post news and photos from our past few events. Thank you for your support and understanding during these difficult months.

God Bless,
Officer Clarke

October 13, 2010 Mom went home to be with the Lord

As many of you know, Mom has been fighting liver cancer for the past two years. For those of you who don't, Mom had Cirrhosis of the liver and the cancer was discovered after required testing for the possibility of a liver transplant. Mom was not a drinker, and it is believed the Cirrhosis may have resulted from a fatty liver--another health risk to those of us who are overweight.
Two years ago, doctors encouraged Mom to go on Hospice and give up her fight with the inevitable. Mom refused and insisted on living her life to the fullest until the Lord Jesus decided to take her home. I found it troubling how much Mom's health care providers attempted to facilitate giving up the battle (especially at the hospital).
During the past two years Mom went on her first cruise (which was my first also), spent many days up to my camp fishing and even helping out with children on our camping and fishing trips (the children loved when she made waffles). She also spent hours of her time sharing her wisdom and building memories with her 12 children and over 40 grandchildren. I am grateful to Doctor Kittur who always encouraged Mom to keep fishing and enjoying life and to Doctor Fiacco who helped treat some of the symptoms from which Mom suffered.
On October 13, while surrounded by family in my sister's home, Mom went home to be with the Lord and family members who have gone before her. Mom's love and Godly wisdom will be greatly missed. Thank you for the many prayers, words of support, cards, and notes I have received during the past two years. They have been an encouragement to me.

Every Spring Mom would spend hours fishing from my dock on Black Lake. She especially loved bullhead fishing. In the photo above, I was cleaning a basket full of fish we had caught the night before when Mom yelled for me to come out and net this pike.

In this photo, Mom landed a nice Bass on another day during our same trip. Mom loved to fish, and I loved to sit next to her, baiting her hook and taking off her fish. I think it's appropriate to post these photos of Mom even though she always worried about her appearance in photos. Besides, I look much worse than she does.

Please note: when Dad passed away 3 yrs ago September 11 with liver cancer we were blessed with the assistance of Hospice for several weeks. They were absolutely wonderful to Dad and helped us through the passing of a loved one. We also were assisted by Hospice for the last few days of Mom's life on earth. They are such a blessing and a great help to families in similar circumstances.

God Bless,
Officer Clarke

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Firearms Training

Some words of advice to anyone who has ever thought about becoming a criminal:
Do not wear this mask while committing a crime.

If you have been wondering why I am just getting around to putting up blog posts from Easter Events, this guy is the reason. I have been a Police Department Firearms Instructor for over 20 years. Due to Departmental Needs, I was instructing on the Firearms Range for eight consecutive weeks. Although I attempted to keep a day a week open for Police Center operations, it didn't always work out that way. Now that I am back, I am still chasing my tail, but I am slowly catching up.

In addition to qualifying on a paper target course, the training included "force on force training." This scenario based training involves the use of handguns (same make as ours) that fire a non-lethal paint-loaded projectile. Officers are presented with scenarios where they engage adversaries that think, move, and shoot back. This type of training allows officers to participate in realistic training scenarios where mistakes can be exploited and corrections made with out the loss of life.

The mask in the photo is the one I wore while playing an adversary who, most often, used deadly physical force against a police officer or citizen in the scenarios. Needless to say, I got shot, wrestled to the ground, and handcuffed a lot.

Although, the eight weeks of instructing firearms training put me behind at the Police Center, I find it very rewarding to belong to a Police Department committed to providing its officers with the highest quality of policing skills. Such skills equip us to serve and protect the citizens of our city.

God Bless,
Officer Clarke

Our Soap Box Derby Racers

Four of our kids from the Police Center had the opportunity to experience, for the first time, racing in the Soap Box Derby. Thanks to the generosity of one of our most fervent supporters, the two sets of twins from the Daily family (Hunter, Takota, Nevada and Sam Daily) each had the chance to drive down the S. Geddes St. hill in a Soap Box Car.

In the weeks prior to the race the boys attended their practices held on Grant Blvd. into the Alliance Bank Stadium Parking lot. This gave the boys their chance to closely examine these strange looking cars and take them for a test spin. Gaining confidence from their practice drives, the boys were ready for the race. Although the the boys were not top place finishers in the race, the entire Daily family enjoyed the event, and plans are already in motion for next year's race.

All-American Soap Box Derby History
Taken from the 2010 Soap Box Derby Program, pg 36:

The Soap Box derby is a youth racing program that has run nationally since 1934. It has been called "The Greatest Amateur Racing Event In the World." The Soap Box Derby started when a Dayton, Ohio Photographer, Myron Scott, was covering a race of boy-built cars in his community. He was so impressed with this event that he acquired a copyright for the idea and began development of a similar event on a national scale. the race became an annual event and expanded throughout America.

The goals of the Soap Box Derby are to encourage close youth-adult activities while building and racing the car. The construction of the gravity racecar reinforces the importance of setting and completing goals while developing such traits as self-confidence, perseverance and craftsmanship. Regardless of the outcome of the race, each youngster is a winner, as they have shared a memorable experience with their advisor. I especially like this quote from pg 5:

"It's better to build children than to repair adults"
~Fredrick Douglas

A big thank you to all the people who work so hard to bring the Soap Box Derby to Syracuse Children. A lot of hard work is required for this event. If you would like to learn more, help out, or donate to the event, visit http://www.syracusesoapboxderby.org/
Congrats to all who participated.

Officer Clarke

Volunteer Fire Department Training (burning down the old farmhouse)

It was time to say goodbye to the old farmhouse I lived in for a short time as a baby. The Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department along with some Hammond VFD folks utilized the structure for a training. How wonderful it was that the training coincided with our fishing trip. The farmhouse is across the street from the lake. We all piled onto my trailer for a safe place to watch the training.

The Firemen and Firewomen did a great job providing the children with an up-close look at firefighting. As you can see from the photos it was an impressive fire. For us city-folk it was a lesson in all the extra work that needs to be done to fight a fire without the assistance of fire hydrants. Trucks ran back and forth to the lake to fill up with water, returned to the yard, emptied the load into the holding pool, which was then sprayed onto the fire. It was a fun and exciting experience for the children. Now they all want to be Firefighters rather than Police Officers.

Mom and Jim were up for the weekend. It was a bittersweet time for her to watch the house burn as she reflected on memories of us living there 50 years ago. My grandfather purchased the land in 1957. I sold my camp and purchased my Dad's place when he was fighting cancer. Last week I bought out my aunt and uncle's interest in the farm. I now own 10 acres in all and can accomplish some things that need to be done before I retire and move up there.

Thank you to Brier Hill and Hammond VFD for getting the job done and the great learning experience for the children. I admire all of our VFD families who volunteer their time and efforts for our communities.

Officer Clarke

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spring Fishing Trip on Black Lake

Our scheduled Bullhead Fishing Trip in April had to be postponed because of unforeseen Police Department staffing needs (the day we planned to leave got red lined). We were unable to reschedule until May 21st (a little too late for good bullhead fishing). However, it was much warmer and we could not have picked a more beautiful weekend.

The bluegills and sunfish were biting which gave the children lots of action on their fishing poles. Officer Burdick took some of the children out in a rowboat, some fished from canoes, while others fished from the dock. Plenty of fish were caught and released--and some were saved for the frying pan.

The weather was exceptionally warm, allowing the children to spend a lot of time swimming or playing on the Slip 'n' Slide. We also taught the older children how to safely tip over the canoes while out in the lake. Once they mastered rolling the canoes, emptying the water from them, and starting over, they teamed up and played games trying to tip each other over. It started out girls against the boys, but once a canoe was tipped over, it appeared to be everyone in the water against the up-righted canoe. It's amazing how difficult it is to tip over a canoe when you have two people inside working as a team to prevent it. Eventually, they would get it tipped, but it required a lot of work from the swimmers in the water.

One of the girls in the fishing boat with Officer Burdick saw the kids swimming and having fun with the canoes and wanted to jump out of the boat and swim to the other kids. Officer Burdick, who was rowing towards the dock, insisted she wait until he got a little closer. Once they were close to the dock and the other kids, she yelled towards the shore to us (her father, who was a chaperone on the trip, and I), asking if she could jump now. We all gave her the go ahead and she jumped into the water. As soon as she was in the water, she panicked and began screaming. Her father sprung to his feet and began running toward the dock. Foreseeing a nasty belly flop and a needless rescue, I yelled for the girl to stand up. Officer Burdick, in the boat next to her, echoed for her to stand up. Just seconds before her father reached the end of the dock, she stood up, said "Oh," and waded over to play with the other children in the water.

We also, managed to get some ATV riding time in over the weekend. Officer Burdick mowed a large circle in the middle of our 5 acre hayfield across the road from the Lake while I rode with the kids on the ATV. The circle in the middle of the open field was ideal for the children who were big enough to operate an ATV. They could drive around, following the mowed path for a couple of laps (I rode with them of course). Once Officer Burdick was done mowing, he drove the smaller children around the field for a ride.

After dark we had campfires and made smores. It is always a challenge for us adults to manage multiple pointed metal sticks with flaming marshmallows on the end. We have a pretty good system until one of the children decides to extinguish their flaming marshmallow by waving their stick rather than by blowing it out. There were no injuries to report other than the warm tongue my Labs usually get because they are watching and waiting for such an opportunity. After making and eating numerous smores, several games of Hide and Seek took place with Officer Burdick leading the way. He considered himself to be fast and sly in Hide and Seek, but he was no match for the kids, especially AJ, who is also quite quick and sneaky. Once Officer Burdick tired the children out, it was time to head to bed to rest up for the next day.

On Saturday afternoon, one severe thunderstorm drove us all inside the house for an hour. We had snacks and played games until the storm passed and then it was back outside to enjoy the outdoors. We even received a surprise visit from a few swans this weekend, something you don't see too often on Black Lake.

We took 16 children on this trip, and we all had a great weekend. Thank you to all who made our trip possible. Your donations are valuable to us. Although, at least one of us adults is outside watching the kids at all times, we still require them to wear a life vest anytime they walk on the dock, swim, or go out in a boat/canoe. It's a rule they have easily adopted, and they are faithful to remind each other to put on their life vests. Most of the vests I own can't take the abuse the children give them (I generally have to discard 1 or 2 per trip). Thus, life vests are constantly needed and any donations are greatly appreciated. If you are willing to help provide them for the children, vests with zip fronts plus the buckles are the best for our use (if the kids break off a buckle, the zipper still keeps the vest on). As you can see from our photos, we use vests of all sizes (5yr-adult). You can even see AJ still wearing his life vest when we celebrated his Birthday Saturday night (when the kids get one of the zip vests on, they don't want to take it off). Another item much needed at the camp is paddles and oars. I have 4 canoes and 4 rowboats at the camp, but I do not have enough paddles and oars to allow all of those canoes to be in the water at the same time.

Our next summer camping trip is scheduled for July (possibly the 9th - 11th).
Once again, thank you for all your support,

Officer Clarke

Monday, June 7, 2010

Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department Easter Event

The Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department is located a few miles from my camp on Black Lake. I had met with Fire Chief Shawn Macaulay a year ago to discuss burning down our old farm house as a training. During our conversation we talked about programs at the Police Center and about how the Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department likes to reach out to the community in a similar fashion. Chief Macaulay piqued my interest because I knew I would want to continue working with children after I retired from the Police Department and moved to Black Lake.

After our Easter Party at the Police Center we had a good amount of eggs left over (which is unusual). I always spend my Easter weekend at Black Lake, and earlier I had seen on Brier Hill's Facebook page that they were having a free pancake breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt the Saturday morning before Easter. I called and left a message for Betty Lowery of the Ladies Auxiliary, stating I had some eggs and a few coloring kits the Police Center would like to pass onto them for their Easter Event. A short time later, Betty returned my call, excited about adding egg coloring to their event. The next thing I knew, I had volunteered Renee, Mom, Mom's boyfriend and myself to color eggs at the Pancake Breakfast.

Friday, I drove to the Firehouse, met with Betty, discussed how we would like the tables set up for the coloring and dropped off the eggs to be boiled. We then continued onto Black Lake where Mom had arrived ahead of us. Mom already had her idea of how the weekend was going to go---cards Friday night till midnight or later, get up early, eat breakfast, fish all day and repeat the same the next night (a nice relaxing weekend). I wasn't sure how I was going to break the news about this egg coloring event that was right in the middle of her weekend. After unloading at the camp, I sat down to take a breather. Right away, Mom asked,
"When are we going to take the eggs to the Firehouse? You don't want to leave them in the truck too long or they will spoil." I wasn't ready to talk about the egg coloring yet. I wanted to wait till we were playing cards; we would all be more relaxed then. I told Mom that we already dropped them off on the way.
"That's good," Mom said, "now we don't have to worry about that." Hmm, if she thought dropping the eggs off was going to slow her plans, wait till she hears about coloring eggs with the children.

"Well Mom," I said, "I met this really nice ol 'lady when I dropped off the eggs; she thought it might be nice if we came and helped color them with the children tomorrow."

"Oh, no Jimmy, oh no, you didn't?" Mom asked.

"Mom, it will be fun," I said, "plus, we don't have to make breakfast."

"On no Jimmy," Mom said again.

"Mom, it won't be that bad; it's only for a few hours," I said, "besides, it's what I do; I like working with kids." Mom thought for a second and replied,

"Yes, you do, yes, you do, oh okay."
The next morning we arrived early at the Firehouse, ate breakfast and set up before most of the families arrived. It wasn't long before lines of children formed in front of us to color their own eggs.

Betty told us they generally serve around 300. I didn't doubt it; the place was packed. After a couple hours of coloring eggs and getting a family photo with the Easter Bunny, the Easter Egg hunt began. The event drew everyone outside to a field of several thousand plastic eggs filled with candy.

What a great time everyone had, especially me. I think I found a great place to volunteer when I retire. One of my requirements before I retire has been met.

Officer Clarke

Easter Party 2010

We served over 300 children, plus parents, at our Children's Easter Party this year. Families enjoyed free hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, Frito Lays chips and a beverage while they colored their eggs. With such a large number attending the party, we took families in shifts. As soon as a family ate, colored eggs, visited the Easter Bunny, received an Easter Basket and left, we cleared the table and a new family was immediately seated. It seemed the line waiting to come in the door would never end.

It was a very busy night for our volunteers who cooked, served food and cleaned up many messes (which we expected). I was grateful for the help we received from Officer Burdick's Volunteers from the Butternut Community Police Center. They were a tremendous help. We would not have been able to keep up with the families without them.

I am so fortunate to have such wonderful bunch of people who give of their time and donations to support our programs. Thank you, to several dentists who donated toothbrushes and toothpaste. You made it possible for us to include them in every child's Easter Basket. And thank you to all who donated items or funds to help make our party possible.

God Bless,
Officer Clarke

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UNO Chicago Grill Fund Raiser (Today)


Just a reminder, the "Dough Raiser" at UNO Chicago Grill (Carousel Mall) is today. Please come out for a bite to eat and support the Police Center. I will be there after 5pm. Stop by my table and introduce yourself. I will be seated at a table in the bar area.

Thank you for your support,
Officer Clarke

Friday, March 26, 2010

UNO Chicago Grill Dough Raiser

Hey Folks,

The UNO CHICAGO GRILL is hosting a Dough Raiser to help generate funds for the Police Center at Carousel Mall. On Wednesday March 31st, up to 20% of your check may be donated to the Police Center Fund. Invite family and friends to join you for dinner at the UNO CHICAGO GRILL in Carousel Mall. Use the coupon from our mailing or inform your server, you are there to RAISE DOUGH for the Northside Community Police Center. I am planning to eat lunch at the Uno Grill and will also be there from 5:00PM-10:00PM. Ask your server where I am in the restaurant and be sure to visit our table. If you have any questions, call our office during the day at 471-3257.

See you there,

Officer Clarke

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fund Letter Easter Party 2010

Dear Supporter,

I went up to Black Lake a couple of weeks ago to pull the ice-shanties off the lake (they were still there from our ice-fishing trip). DEC regulations require the shanties to be off the ice by March 15. I was surprised at how much the ice had melted. I didn’t dare drive my ATV out to tow them in, so we had to drag them in by manpower. It took my Mother’s boyfriend and me over an hour to drag the first one to shore, where we loaded it on my trailer and towed it around the lake to my place. I solicited the help of some friends to help pull the second shanty off the ice. It was a much easier drag (with 5 of us), but it still took us over an hour because it was farther out on the lake. Spring must be on its way because I recall three years ago driving my ATV across the lake on the ice and fishing on Easter Sunday but the ice is already thin this year.

My mother had a chemo treatment a couple weeks ago. She is a little slow moving around. She sat in the chair looking out at the lake, anxious for the ice to go so that she can start bullhead fishing. I am looking forward to some springtime fishing with her. Mom somehow manages to sit on my dock for hours fishing. She loves to fish and I enjoy sitting on the dock fishing with her. I am guessing by Easter, or shortly after, we should be able to start bullhead fishing.

With spring just ahead, our upcoming events--the Easter Party and our Annual Bullhead Fishing Trip--are also quickly approaching. Our Easter Party is scheduled for Thursday, April 1st at 5:00pm. Area children come to the Police Center to color Easter eggs and receive an Easter basket. We cook hotdogs, hamburgers and provide drinks for everyone. The Easter Bunny will make an appearance at the party. Attendance will be around 300. It’s a busy but fun event. If you would like to help, you may do so by providing any of the following items:

· Hotdogs, hamburgers, rolls, chips, ketchup, drinks

· Eggs (we need lots of eggs)

· Easter egg coloring kits (deluxe kits that allow kids to make their own designs)

· Easter candy (we need lots of candy)

· Easter baskets or buckets

· Cups, plates, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, etc

· Toothpaste, my dentist is donating toothbrushes for everyone

· Monetary donations (enable us to purchase needed items)

· People to assist with the cooking, serving, egg coloring, set up and clean up.

Another upcoming event will be our Annual Bullhead Fishing Trip to Black Lake. Each year we take some children to my place on Black Lake for a weekend of bullhead fishing. If you would like to help with this trip, we could use the following items:

· Food for the weekend

· Fishing poles, line, hooks, sinkers, worms, minnows etc.

· Lantern fuel, mantels, propane

· Donations to help pay for gas (transportation) and any other items needed

The children enjoy the bullhead fishing trip. Bullheads are fierce fighters, making them an exciting catch for the children. Plus, if the nights are warm enough, we roast marshmallows in the fire and make smores. The trip will be on a weekend in April or May, to be announced. If you would like some bullhead, let me know and we will bring you back a few!

Visit our blog to keep yourself informed of our events: www.northsidepolice.blogspot.com and view photos of our events by scrolling down the blog until you see the Flickr link.

Thank you for supporting our youth programs. Together we are making a difference in the lives of area children



Officer Clarke

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ice Fishing with Acacia Fraternity

This was the first time I ever went Ice fishing, I have to say it was not what I was expecting. I am a Student at Syracuse University and I thought I knew what cold was but surely New York State was just showing me a sample of its weather. When we first got onto the lake, my hands instantly froze up and the thermals and other weather gear that I had was useless. Besides the weather, this event is one of the most memorable one I have thus far. It was fun sledding with the kids and helping them do some fishing. I was hoping that we caught something but regardless, the experience was enough. I am hoping we have an opportunity to do this again but be properly prepared.
Thank you
Tony J. Nguyen
Acacia Fraternity

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ice-Fishing Trip 2010

I felt I was the most prepared I have ever been for our Annual Ice-Fishing Trip on Black Lake this year. I had made several trips to camp the weeks before to get everything set up. The ice-shanties were already in place out on the lake, the snowmobiles and ATVs were gassed and sitting on the lawn ready to be driven onto the lake, the porta-john was delivered, the food packed in the cupboards and fridge, the beds were all made, and we had plenty of extra clothing.

Once everyone arrived at Black Lake, we caravan-ed to the Black Lake Fish and Game Club to sign up for the fishing derby. We then stopped at Turner's Inn for pizzas and finger foods. After everyone was full, we headed back to camp. The children exited the vehicles ready for play. The younger kids played in the snow and went sledding with their plastic sleds, and the older kids were anxious to ride the snowmobiles. While Renee dug out all the helmets, I made a big loop from the camp shoreline, 1/2 mile out by the island and back to the shoreline. The kids took turns riding the snowmobiles, following the trail I had made. We watched as the children played and rode snowmobiles for a couple hours. Then everyone was called indoors for some hot chocolate and a snack before settling into bed.

By sunrise, us adults were up sipping on our morning coffee. For the first time in years, we waited on the children to awaken from their sleep (generally, they spring out of bed and excitedly wake us). It must have been the late evening playing had tired them out. Renee cooked eggs, toast, hash browns and bacon for everyone. I am always amazed that some of these children will eat a bowl of cereal in addition to their hot breakfast.

The skies were clear and the sun was shining. From inside it looked to be a pleasant day. Once outdoors, we discovered the wind was blowing and the temperature was 10 degrees. Our tip-up holes would freeze up shortly after we set them in the water. It was a constant chore keeping the holes from freezing solid. Without the fish biting, the children were ready to play and ride snowmobiles. We plowed a large space out on the lake where the children could play and ice-skate. In addition, a 30' x 15' piece of my lawn (which was flooded weeks earlier ) froze over, making it a slippery skating ring. I was surprised to discover the small patch of ice was the weekend long object of play for the big and small kids.

Later in the morning some SU students from the Acacia Fraternity arrived to help out with our trip. Not being familiar with upstate New York weather or ice-fishing, the group arrived a little under-dressed. Renee quickly forged through our extra clothes and dressed the SU students just as caringly as she does our kids. Soon they were out on the lake helping us chop the tip-ups out of the frozen ice. The cold weather causes the ice to expand and often times loud noises of cracking and popping can be heard. It was comical to watch one of the students cringe every time he heard the noise. As one of our group members drove past us in his truck, I asked the student if he thought he weighed more than the truck but it didn't seem to bring him much comfort to know the ice could support over 2,000 lbs. The students were a great help chipping out the tip-ups. Once they finished, they were drawn to the small patch of ice and began playing with the children.

Our day of fishing (with more than 60 tip-ups in the water) only resulted in a catch of five small pike. When I owned my camp on the other end of the lake, we would easily catch 20 pike on our trip. Now that I own my father's camp (located on the opposite side of the lake), it seems it is going to take me some time to figure out where to catch the fish. Eventually, I will figure it out; it's just going to take me a few years to do so.

I spent a lot of time sitting on the back of an ATV or a snowmobile so that I could allow the younger kids an opportunity to drive. Needless to say, once I started letting them drive, they kept getting in line to drive again. I spent several hours sitting on the rear of a snowmobile or an ATV (mostly the ATV). It was humorous teaching them to drive. The younger kids have a little difficulty getting used to thumbing the throttle. This would result in jerking us backward, followed by releasing the throttle, causing us to jerk forward. The process continued until the kid got used to controlling the throttle. Needless to say, my body was happy when they finally figured it out. Of course, there were a couple kids who didn't have this difficulty; they simple squeezed the throttle and held on. When this happened, there is the first jerk of the vehicle, followed by my applying the break and yelling "slow down!" in which the kid would let off the throttle (I had to yell to be heard through our helmets). It's easier to break the kids in on the ATV first because my foot rests over the break when they drive, making it is easier for me to apply it without grabbing the handlebars. On the snowmobile, I have to grab the handlebars to apply the brake. So, I would start with the ATV, and once they developed the proper skills, I would give them a couple of opportunities to drive one of the snowmobiles. The lake is a great place for the kids to learn because of the wide, open, unobstructed space. It was rewarding to see the kids' driving skills improve. At first we would drive a short distance on the lake and return to the shore. Then we would drive back out, following the tracks that they had made a mile out on the lake, eventually turning back, once again. The kids enjoyed following and staying on the "road" they had made out of the snow trail, and they improved greatly with each trip out.

Later in the evening we all came inside and played games. The weekend was a fun and memorable time for the children as well as for me: sledding, skating, fishing, riding and driving ATVs and snowmobiles; our days and evenings were filled with things to do. Driving the ATVs and snowmobiles is an experience that most children would probably not have until they grew up (and maybe not even then). I consider it a privilege to be able to share such memorable moments with the children. A special thanks goes out to those of you who helped support our trip. I can hardly wait until next year.


Officer Clarke

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ice-fishing letter

Dear Supporters,

I am beginning preparations for our Annual Ice Fishing Trip to Black Lake. When I was up to my camp for the New Year people were driving trucks out onto Rollaway Bay. There was 13”-15” of ice with over a foot of snow on top of the ice at that time. My four wheeler is in the shop for service because I am planning to bring it up north this weekend to pull the ice-shanties out to our fishing spots. I plan on loading the truck up with supplies we will need for the weekend of the fishing trip. This warm weather has melted the snow down a bit, but I am sure there is plenty of ice for ice-fishing. I will have a better idea of the snow and ice conditions after my trip up there this weekend.

Our Ice-fishing trip is a little different from most our other trips in several ways. A number of the children who attended in past years have now grown up and attend as young adults. I like bringing them along because drilling a few hundred holes through 2’ of ice (my back can’t handle it like it did when I was 20), putting out 60-90 tip-ups, and moving ice shanties around requires a lot of bull work. These boys now in their late teens to early 20’s are the right bulls for the job. They are also mature enough to operate the snowmobiles and ATVs to transport equipment back and forth to the ice shanties. Generally, once I get set up with the younger children at our fishing spot, the older boys drive the snowmobiles around. It’s a nice trade-off. Plus, I like staying connected with these kids as they become adults.

I encourage you to view our photos from previous ice-fishing trips. Scroll down this page until you see the flicker photos on the right and click on flickr. Once you're on flickr, click on northsidepolice (next to the black police badge), click on any year, click on ice-fishing for that year and view (I like to view in the slideshow by clicking slideshow in the upper right).

Last year at this time I shared a note regarding my mother being diagnosed with liver cancer. She is holding up better than predicted. I would say her health is a little worse off than a year ago. I doubt she will be joining us when the kids come up (the chance of catching a cold with all the kids around is much higher). I may get her to go up this weekend because she loves to fish. Please continue with your prayers for her health. I have no doubt it is what is keeping her as healthy as she is (just got off the phone with her; she had a rough night with dry heaves 3am-8am).

The dates for the ice-fishing trip are February 5th-7th. The Black Lake Fish and Game Association Fishing Derby is only on Saturday this year. We will be entering everyone into the derby. They have a great youth division, and generally many of our children win prizes. If you are interested in helping us out with the ice-fishing trip you may help in any of the following ways:

· Zebco 202 or 404 reels (or comparable- with reverse switch) for our tip-ups

· Ice-fishing line, poles, lures, tip-ups, small propane tanks for lanterns and heaters, etc.

· Bait, grubs, wax worms, large minnows ($1.25 ea. We generally use 250 pike minnows)

· Food, drinks, snacks, paper plates, bowls, cups, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper

· Clothing (socks, mittens, scarfs, etc)

· Gas cards – we will be using a lot of gas for vehicles to transport everyone to camp, for the snowmobiles, ATVs and the ice auger.

· Monetary donations for Black Lake Derby entry fees, renewal fees for our Adventure Explorer Post (this provides our liability insurance through the Hiawatha Seaway Council for all our trips throughout the year, pizza and wings (Friday night), gas, minnows and any other expenses for the trip. Checks may be made out to Northside Community Police Center Fund.

You may drop off or mail donations to our office at 255 Wolf St. If you have any questions on the above events, please give me a call at 471-3257.


James K. Clarke

Police Officer

North Community

Police Center