As the newly appointed executive director of the Port of Oswego Authority, William Scriber ’80 wakes up every morning with a “never-ending list of tasks” he wants to accomplish. The mission of the port—to create commerce in the region and stimulate the economic development—pushes him toward progress as fast as he can make it happen.
“Back in 1957 when the state created the Port of Oswego, it was designed to be an economic engine that drove Oswego,” he said. “When they were opening the seaway, this was the only water access for international trade and cross-border trade in all of Upstate New York. The state did something right in creating an agency whose primary focus was economic development and giving them the tools needed to do it. Through the water, the port historically built the city, as we were designated the first port of entry in 1799 by U.S. Congress.”
With one year as interim director in 2017-18 under his belt, Bill led the port to a record year in exports, increasing grain exports by 325 percent and aluminum imports by 36 percent from the previous year. He also administered a $3.57 million state grant to upgrade and build an embedded road and rail from the main port facility to the expansion site at the former Fitzgibbons Boiler Company property near Fort Ontario—services many people don’t consider when they think of a shipping port.
“We’re an intermodal warehousing and transportation center—which is entirely different from just a port,” he said. “We have a major rail spur and connections to the main CSX [railroad] line nationwide. We receive and export a lot on rail. Plus, last month we had an average of 40 trucks a day in this port—loading, offloading or transloading goods.”
Bill’s desire to revitalize Oswego traces back to his ancestors, who arrived in Oswego in the late 1700s “when the only mode of transportation was to sail,” he said. Each generation has done its part to create smoother sailing for the next, including serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Bill himself served as a sergeant in U.S. Army Special Operations Command during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and graduated from the Army’s logistics school.
As a newly minted political science graduate, Bill became the youngest person elected town supervisor in New York state when he won the position in his hometown of Parish. He has also worked at a logistics company in Syracuse, served as Oswego County Commissioner of Elections and then joined the Port of Oswego staff in January 2010.
When Bill enrolled in SUNY Oswego in 1976, he was the first in his family to attend college, and he is proud that his daughter, Christina ’16, followed in his footsteps. She currently works at the college.
A former College Council member appointed to a seven-year term by former New York State Governor David Patterson in 2011, Bill maintains his connections to the college today by hosting student science interns to analyze grain shipments that come through the U.S. Department of Agriculture labs at the port, and he is hoping to attract an MBA student intern to assist the port in financial reports needed to apply for state and federal grants.
“We’re very fortunate to have the college in Oswego,” he said. “The port provides a great range of learning opportunities for Oswego State students—experiences that I would have loved to have had when I was a student there. By partnering, we can help each other and the broader community.” —Margaret Spillett
Port of Oswego projects completed or underway:
• Marina filling station and dock
slips opened summer 2018
• 15-site RV park by Fort Ontario to
open spring 2019
• $3.4 million to upgrade and build embedded truck and rail lines to the expansion site at the former Fitzgibbons Boiler Company property, finished in 2016
• $6.5 million in federal and state aid to repair dock damage from high waters in 2018
• $20 million state Department of Transportation grant—doubling on-site storage capabilities for grain, potash (fertilizer) and aluminum
• Application submitted for U.S. Department of
Transportation’s Marine Highway designation
Water Connects Us
As director of the New York State Canal Corporation, Brian Stratton ’79 oversees 524 miles of the state’s canal system, including the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Champlain and Oswego canals. More than 200 towns and communities reside along the Erie Canal, which celebrated its bicentennial in 2017. He returned to campus last fall to participate in an Erie Canal Bicentennial discussion of New York’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) program and how it is transforming DRI communities—Oswego, Rome, Geneva and Watkins Glen—along the New York State Canal System. He also spoke in classes through the Oswego Alumni Association’s Alumni-In-Residence program.