Community grins and bears it

New York Sash Idea and Design Center on Route 69 in Whitesboro has had a lot of holiday guests visiting this week - over 4,000 of them. They're most welcome. In fact, they've been showing up regularly for the past 14 years.

And who might they be?

Teddy bears and stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes collected at last Saturday's annual Teddy Bear Toss. It took place during the Utica College men’s hockey game at the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The critters were taken to New York Sash where they have been sorted, organized and put on display this week. On Monday, they'll be bagged and sent off to a variety of local toy drives, schools, organizations and agencies, including Operation Sunshine.

“It’s really impressive, the support of our community,” said New York Sash owner Scot Hayes. “My family and I are so grateful to be able to make this event happen year after year. Not only is it a fun holiday event but it’s a great way to give back to those in need.”

If you hurry, you can still get a glimpse of the haul at 349 Oriskany Blvd. in Whitesboro. They'll be there today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.



Somebody's getting coal in their stocking

Talk about getting yourself on the Naughty List. A substitute teacher in Montville, New Jersey, has been told not to come back after officials say the teacher told first-grade students that Santa Claus isn't real.

Montville Schools Superintendent Rene Rovtar confirmed this week that the teacher will no longer work in the district after the incident last week at Cedar Hill School. Rovtar declined further comment, saying the issue is a personnel matter.

Officials say the teacher also debunked other holiday characters, including the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Elf on a Shelf. Rovtar previously said she was disheartened by the incident and that "childhood wonder associated with all holidays and traditions" is special to her.

The substitute teacher's identity has not been released.

But Santa knows.



Farmers' tax break good for us all

A tax exemption for farmers and growers across New York state set to expire Jan. 1 has been extended for another decade. It exempts agricultural producers from paying real property tax on buildings essential to their products, such as temporary greenhouses and dairy barns.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state’s Real Property Tax Law exemption has been extended for the next 10 years. He said it will help farmers and orchard owners to grow their businesses.

Agriculture is one of New York’s leading industries. State officials say the exemption will help the state’s farmers stay competitive in the global economy.

The Cuomo administration says the exemption has saved New York farmers nearly $113 million since 2008.